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Summary: Many people suffer from poor relationships not only with people, but also with God because of an unwillingness to receive and give forgiveness

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Let the Lord Help You Receive and Give Forgiveness - (Eph. 1:7)

Failure to learn how to receive and give forgiveness is a major impediment to relationships. Jesus thought so much about the significance of forgiveness that He taught us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Matt 6:9-11)

Illustration: Sen. Mark Hatfield recounts the following history: James Garfield was a lay preacher and principal of his denominational college. They say he was ambidextrous and could simultaneously write Greek, with one hand and Latin with the other.

In l880, he was elected president of the United States, but after only six months in office, he was shot in the back with a revolver. He never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn’t find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn’t locate the bullet.

They took Garfield back to Washington, D.C. Despite the summer heat, they tried to keep him comfortable. He was growing very weak. Teams of doctors tried to locate the bullet, probing the wound over and over. In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on a little device called the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president’s body. He came, he sought, and he too failed. The president hung on through July, through August, but in September he finally died-not from the wound, but from infection. The repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help the man, eventually, killed him. So it is with people who dwell too long on their sin and refuse to release it to God.

Roger Thompson

Many people suffer from poor relationships not only with people, but also with God because of an unwillingness to receive and give forgiveness.

Illustration: Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."

John Stott in The Contemporary Christian.

The following are several guidelines to help us in the process of growing in our ability to receive and give forgiveness:

1. The Holy Spirit helps us understand, appreciate and live out God’s unconditional forgiveness in Christ. Paul wrote, "In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (Eph. 1:7) Ask the Lord to help you more fully understand, appreciate and live out the truth of God’s forgiveness and grace.

Illustration: Even Pastors need forgiveness at times as do children:

Three boys were talking about their fathers exellence. One of them said:my father is a great professor. When he is talking about a subject, only 10 persons in the world can understand him!The second boy said: my father is great brain surgeon, when he is talking about his surgery only 5 person in the whole world can realize what he is saying.The third boy said:my father is a pastor, when he is preaching nobody can understand what he is saying.

2. The Holy Spirit teaches us that unless we learn to forgive others God will not restore our fellowship with Him. Jesus said, "If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:15) Ask the Lord to help you to stop holding grudges, resentment or anything against anyone so as not to hinder your fellowship with the heavenly Father.

3. The Holy Spirit allows the grace of Christ’s forgiveness to penetrate to all the corners of our emotions, mind and perceptions. Many people only allow God’s grace to be appreciated on an intellectual level without it piercing to all the layers of their emotions, attitudes, and perceptions. These people tend to be very critical of others because they have not fully appreciated how much God has forgiven them. Paul encountered such people in the Galatian church when he wrote, "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God - or rather are known by God - how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?... It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Gal. 4:8,9; Gal 5:1) Ask the Lord to help you allow Christ’s forgiveness, grace and freedom to penetrate to all the dimensions and layers of your life, relationships and ministries.

4. The Holy Spirit helps us forgive others as He teaches us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy." (Matt. 5:7) Ask the Lord to help you to be less critical, judgmental and harsh with people remembering how much God overlooks your faults.

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