by PJ Salas

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."  Ephesians 4:32.

God Forgives

To forgive is to be like Christ. Perhaps the single greatest attribute a human can possess is forgiveness. Why? A simple statement puts it best, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”.

Humankind can be brutal and treacherous. We beat each other up with our unkind words and judgmental attitudes. We lash out when we are offended, and seek payback when we are hurt. And while we point the finger and harden our heart, we are just as bad or worse than the one who has wronged us.

Christ, the perfect expression of love, forgives us. Through His death at Calvary He made a way for all to be forgiven, and to forgive.

Forgive as God Forgives

God said if we do not forgive, He will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). If we cannot forgive those who have wronged us, we cannot expect forgiveness from our heavenly Father. Further, if we do not forgive others, why should we expect others to forgive us?

Sometimes emotional or physical injury is so deep that forgiveness is an impossible expectation. However, consider this, Jesus our Creator so loves us that He laid aside His kingly robe and His royal scepter. Christ became one of us, His own creation, that He may be our Savior. He lived as we live. He died a cruel and excruciating death in our stead, that we may have forgiveness of sins. Jesus died so we may be forgiven our rebellious treason against God.

If God has gone to such lengths to save and forgive us, then how can we not forgive? The Lord has not only made a way for us to be forgiven, but that we too may forgive.

Breaking God's Heart

It breaks God's heart when we close ourselves off to Him, when we shut Him out and allow unforgiveness to overcome us. It hurts God deeply when we will not allow His love to flow through us in forgiveness.

When we refuse Jesus' gift of forgiveness, we are locking Him out, and it leads to a closed heart that does not forgive others. Moreover, even when we have accepted the Lord's forgiveness, we can become embittered with unforgiveness, when we allow ourselves to be seized by the anger and pain of wrongdoing. Bitterness is an obstruction of love that does not allow forgiveness to flow, and if it persists, hate pursues.

It pains God when we are unforgiving, it breaks His heart. God has given us the ultimate example in being merciful, and showing forgiveness, by the death of His own Son on our behalf; how can we not be forgiving.

Further, when we do not forgive others, we are hurting ourselves. Unforgiveness wears on us; it slowly destroys us from within, gripping and choking us with its poison.

A Heart Health Matter

Forgiveness is a matter of heart and health; particularly it concerns our heart’s health, which is compromised when we are unforgiving. An unforgiving heart physically harms us, destroying our health. Overall well-being is diminished, and our bodies become sickly and damaged. Cognitive abilities are also affected. Unforgiveness is life destroying.

Scientific research shows that unforgiveness causes a host of illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as, high blood pressure, and a deteriorated immune system. Heart disease can also result from an unforgiving heart. Moreover, all of these physical maladies lead to decreased longevity.

In contrast, forgiving people are prone to better health, such as, low risk for heart attack, good cholesterol, and better sleep. They also tend to have less pain and lower blood pressure, and are less likely to experience anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and hostility.

Unforgiveness truly is a matter of health, heart health. We need to forgive for our health and well-being.

Considering these factors, we can understand why God stresses the importance of forgiveness. Unforgiveness is not only unkind, but also causes a multitude of personal problems, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

We Can Forgive with Jesus

When we find ourselves in a place of unforgiveness with no desire or hope for forgiving the wrongdoer, turning to Jesus is our hope. He is our help. Jesus opens our heart and His forgiveness flows through us to the one who has devastated us. His merciful grace enables us to forgive those who pain us.

What is impossible to forgive, with Jesus forgiveness becomes possible. This is good news. This is excellent news. With Jesus we can forgive, we can let go, we can open our hearts and have compassion, and show mercy.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the hope and help we all need so much. We need His strength and grace, His encouragement and wisdom, as well as the willingness to forgive, which He provides to those who seek it.

Every one of us needs Jesus. He is the One who can give us tender hearts full of forgiveness. He empowers us to be the kind of people who contribute good to our world, rather than ugly hatefulness.

We need God’s forgiveness, and the forgiveness of those we have hurt; and we all need to forgive. Forgiving those who hurt us releases the oppressive chains of unforgiveness, which brings debility and sickness.

Now is the Time

Is there someone you have hurt or offended? Has someone hurt you? Do you need to forgive someone for a wrong done to you? Do you need to ask forgiveness for some hurt you have caused someone? Is there some unconfessed sin you need God to forgive?

Now is the time. Do not wait. Do not waste another day or moment, you may not have another opportunity to confess your fault to God. You may not get another chance to seek forgiveness from the one you have wronged. Another opportunity may not come to show mercy and forgive.

Do not wait. Do not delay. Go to the one you have hurt. Go to God, bow before Him in humble adoration, and seek His forgiveness. Forgive the one who has wronged you; give them the opportunity to ask your forgiveness. Open wide your heart and arms and let the floodgates of love come flowing in, and forgive that you may be forgiven.

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."  Ephesians 4:32.