Forgiveness is the standard for the Christian. God has forgiven us and he calls us likewise to forgive others. No matter what the sin or hurt committed against us, God always calls us to forgive. His forgiveness sets the standard for our lives.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
In the parable of the unmerciful servant Jesus showed the total inconsistency of those in God’s kingdom who refuse to forgive. We have been forgiven a very large and unpayable debt. How can we now withhold forgiveness from others? The king in the parable says to the unmerciful servant,
Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?
The dangers of unforgiveness
Unforgiveness is totally negative and destructive and nothing good ever comes from it.
Unforgiveness brings distress
The unmerciful servant was thrown into prison and put into the hands of debt collectors (torturers), until he paid up in full. This means as long as we refuse to forgive others we will lack peace of heart and be vulnerable to distress in the form of anxiety, stress, sorrow and other kinds of emotional pain.
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
Unforgiveness blocks the parental forgiveness of God
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to forgive daily all those who sin against us. He warns us that our heavenly Father will withhold his parental forgiveness from us, if we withhold forgiveness from others.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
When God withholds his parental forgiveness, he does not put us back under condemnation. Our sins can never count against us again because God has totally forgiven and forgotten them. He cancelled our debt and credited us with the righteousness of Christ. We received this judicial forgiveness once and for all by faith in the blood of Jesus. God, the righteous judge, judged all our sins on the cross and removed condemnation from our lives forever!
Now we can understand that our heavenly Father will never reject or abandon his children, even when we let him down. But when we sin, it hinders our fellowship with him, especially when we withhold forgiveness from others. The only way God blesses us is by grace, and when we move away from this principle, God cannot pour into our lives all the blessings he has for us. Therefore, the Father always calls us back to his grace. A person who is truly walking in grace will also walk in the light of God’s total forgiveness and will have no problem forgiving others.
Every day we come before our heavenly Father and thank him for his forgiveness – the forgiveness that makes us his sons and daughters. Every day we show him that we are walking in grace by forgiving others the wrongs they have done against us. And the blessings of the Father flow freely into our lives.
Unforgiveness gives the devil a foothold
There is nothing the devil likes more than when people remain bitter and unforgiving. It gives him a foothold into that situation and if it is not dealt with, the foothold can become a stronghold. Unforgiveness provides the devil with an open door to bring his division and destruction into a situation or a relationship.
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
Unforgiveness hinders effective prayer
Our prayer life can be severely hindered by unforgiveness. Withholding forgiveness from others prevents our faith from operating freely, and that can rob us of God’s blessings and block the release of his promises into our lives. Grace is our only confidence that God will answer our prayers. We never get answers because we deserve them. That’s why God brings us back to the principle of grace every time we pray. We are not walking in grace when we hold unforgiveness in our heart. When we pray we must remember the grace God has shown to us and extend that same grace to others. That’s how prayer works.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your heavenly Father may forgive you your sins.