Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? 22 Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness is not as easy as this Scripture reading makes it sound! Each time someone offends us, thoughts like “How wicked could he be? “, “After everything I have done for her? In fact, she owes me an apology!” runs through our minds. Self-righteousness and self-pity invade our thoughts like a plague which causes unhappiness in the long run. But God doesn’t want us to be unhappy, sad or even more importantly, lose out on His forgiveness to us as well since we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). Let’s look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

If we refuse to forgive others, God will not also forgive us when we sin against Him. Imagine every dirty thing you have ever done and regretted, and imagine the Lord our Creator turning His back on you all because we have refused to forgive! May that not be our portion in Jesus’ Name!
Apart from God not forgiving us of our sins, unforgiveness leads to a lot of other sins like anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy and even murder! Yes, we may feel justified in condemning that person but really think about it “Is this person worth my happiness?” “Is this person worth my sleepless nights?” “Would Jesus ever approve of this?” Ask these questions with a sincere heart.

Forgiveness is gradual and habitual. It is not something to be rushed. It is not something to be done once in a while. It’s a process of consistently letting scars heal, of slowly but surely removing the ‘red-hot coal’ of resentment out of one’s hands and allowing God to heal and rectify you.
God is the God that never sleeps nor slumbers. He never gets tired of hearing all our wants and complaints. He loves it when we tell Him everything that troubles us. He is also a God of Justice! For every action there is a consequence and God assures that He will take care of that. “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to His Deeds”(Romans 2:5). Therefore, do not take matters into your hands. Let the Lord of Justice fight for you!

Forgiving someone means choosing love over that person. It means overlooking a person’s faults and whims and choosing love instead. This is what Christ did for us when He gave up His life on the cross of Calvary. He decided to choose love despite being crucified on the cross for no just cause. He was treated like a murderer and didn’t care that we were unworthy to receive His Life, He forgave us all anyway. He even pleaded with God the Father to “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34). “Love keeps no record of wrongs”(1Cor13:4). When we start keeping record of wrongdoings we are nothing different from the accountant who keeps stock of his profits and losses. People should be treated better than a “profit and loss account”. True forgiveness always strives to forget. Forgetting doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting the memory entirely, rather, forgetting all bitterness, resentment and negative thoughts surrounding the memory so that when next we remember or even tell the story, it will be nothing but a story or memory. No ‘hater‘ feelings attached!

Always remember that God works best in tough times. Not allowing God victory over your these times (especially in the area of forgiveness), make the Devil to rejoice at his victory of chaos and sin. It takes the grace and the strength of God to forgive. “But Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26). Let me end this article with a quote from the Christian author, C. S Lewis “Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it (The Business of Heaven, p 62). May God bless this word in our hearts through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

BY CHIAMAKA DIKE

Although forgiving is really hard, it is not impossible. Ask the Lord to plant His perfect love inside of you and help you overcome this difficult task. Remember, if you dont forgive, you cant be forgiven by God.

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