Summary: Satan uses the trick of not forgiving others. Not forgiving, tears up families, churches and friends.

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Forgiveness defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is to give up resentment of or claim to requital for (forgive an insult) or to grant relief from payment of (forgive a debt); to cease to feel resentment against (an offender).

When the first missionaries came to Alberta, Canada, a young chief of the Cree Indians named Maskepetoon savagely opposed them. But he responded to the gospel and accepted Christ. Shortly afterward, a member of the Blackfoot tribe killed his father. Maskepetoon rode into the village where the murderer lived and demanded that he be brought before him.

Confronting the guilty man, he said, "You have killed my father, so now you must be my father. You shall ride my best horse and wear my best clothes."

In utter amazement and remorse his enemy exclaimed, "My son, now you have killed me!" He meant, of course, that the hate in his own heart had been completely erased by the forgiveness and kindness of the Indian chief.

Why should we forgive anyway? First of all because God forgave us. Look up 1 John 1:9 (I¡¦m reading from the Clear Word). Now look up Luke 6:37. If God condemned us every time we sin; we would all be lost. Instead He sent his son to take that penalty for you and me. So if God forgives us, is it too much to ask for us to forgive each other. Go to Eph. 4:31,32. Another reason to forgive is because God told us to. He knows what is best for us.

According to the latest medical and psychological research, forgiving is good for our soul and our bodies. People who forgive:

a. benefit from better immune functioning and lower blood pressure.

b. have better mental health than people who do not forgive.

c. feel better physically.

d. have lower amounts of anger and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.

e. maintain more satisfying and long-lasting relationships.

"When we allow ourselves to feel like victims or sit around dreaming up how to retaliate against people who have hurt us, these thought patterns take a toll on our minds and bodies," says Michael McCullough, director of research for the National Institute for Healthcare Research.

The last reason I’d like to point out to you is because Christ forgave when he was on this earth. Turn to Luke 23:34. Jesus forgave the people that hammered nails into his hands, spit at him and eventually killed him. Take note that He asked His Father to forgive them. He loved them (his enemies) enough to ask his Father to pardon them. For some reason that thought gives me the chills.

But what if I don’t want to forgive? Does anything happen? Yes something does happen. Not forgiving and holding a grudge can be tragic like this next story.

There was a merchant who had identical twin sons. The boys worked for their father in the department store he owned and, when he died, they took over the store. Everything went well until the day a dollar bill disappeared. One of the brothers had left the bill on the cash register and walked outside with a customer. When he returned, the money was gone.

He asked his brother, "Did you see that dollar bill on the cash register?"

His brother replied that he had not. But the young man kept probing and questioning. He would not let it alone.

"Dollar bills just don’t get up and walk away! Surely you must have seen it!" There was subtle accusation in his voice. Tempers began to rise. Resentment set in. Before long, a deep and bitter chasm divided the young men. They refused to speak. They finally decided they could no longer work together and a dividing wall was built down the center of the store. For twenty years hostility and bitterness grew, spreading to their families and to the community.

Then one day a man in a car stopped in front of the store. He walked in and asked the clerk, "How long have you been here?"

The clerk replied that he’d been there all his life.

The customer said, "I must share something with you. Twenty years ago I was ’riding the rails’ and came into this town in a boxcar. I hadn’t eaten for three days. I came into this store from the back door and saw a dollar bill on the cash register. I put it in my pocket and walked out. All these years I haven’t been able to forget that. I know it wasn’t much money, but I had to come back and ask your forgiveness."

The stranger was amazed to see tears well up in the eyes of this middle-aged man. "Would you please go next door and tell that same story to the man in the store?" he said. Then the man was even more amazed to see two middle-aged men, who looked very much alike, embracing each other and weeping together in the front of the store. After twenty years, the brokenness was mended. The wall of resentment that divided them came down.

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