As we begin 2019, I hope you realise that creation is waiting for He who is within you to be revealed to the world through your actions, choices and character.
This year we are going to focus on Forgiveness, the greatest lesson and the most profound gift that God offered Humankind. I would like to invite each one of us to reflect on our relationship with forgiveness in all its manifestation. As we were growing up, we were taught the Lord’s Prayer in order to learn to praise God, to align with His will, to ask for daily provision, to ask for the daily forgiveness of our sins and protection from the evil one.
Forgiveness is a big theme in the Kingdom of God, it featured in one of His parables and in Matthew 18 : 22-35, that’s why He sent His only begotten Son to come and die on our behalf, so that our sins would be forgiven. One of the scriptures that I have found to be helpful is Eph. 4 : 29-32, it is important to forgive others as we have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus of Jesus Christ. With the grace and mercy shown to us, we are always able to start anew with God. When we repent, we are given full forgiveness of our sins because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is it so difficult for us to forgive in return?
In light of our new beginning, God commands forgiveness in return from us, He demands that we forgive others and extend grace as we have been shown grace. Forgiving people who have caused us pain, who have hurt us, betrayed us etc is very difficult for most of us.
However, we need to realise that the pain of living with bitterness and un-forgiveness can poison our soul and destroy us. When we forgive others, we are not saying what they did was O K, but we are releasing them to God and letting go of their hold on us, because un-forgiveness contaminates the channel of communication and sanctification between God and His people.
Many of us have had a falling out with a close friend, a family member, a collage or who-ever, we exchanged words that we later regretted. In some instances we exchange an apology but the relationship is never the same again. We have all hurt someone or been hurt. Sometimes we are the ones who need forgiveness, sometimes we are the ones who need to forgive. Whatever the circumstances, we must do what is necessary to release ourselves from the stronghold of un-forgiveness.
Long held resentment towards a family member or friend, any unresolved conflict can harm us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Studies and research have found that the act of forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attacks, can improve cholesterol levels and sleep, can reduce pain, blood pressure, levels of anxiety, depression and stress. There is a huge connection between forgiveness, our state of health and our peace of mind. The binding power of un-forgiveness is dangerous.
To summarise therefore, forgiveness is critical. To gain a better understanding, let us examine what the Bible has to say about forgiveness:
- All of us are in need of forgiveness. In Romans 3 : 23 we are reminded that “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
- Forgiving others is a prerequisite for our own forgiveness. In Matthew 6 : 14-15, God is ready and willing to forgive us, but asks that we extend the same forgiveness to others first. If we are holding resentment and bitterness in our hearts, it’s time to give it over to God. Let Him heal us and give us the ability to forgive.
- Lack of forgiveness breaks our Fellowship with God. In Matthew 5 : 23-24, the Bible is very clear that harbouring bitterness in our hearts is sin, it gets in the way of experiencing everything God has to offer us. This is so serious in God’s eyes that He asks us to be reconciled with those who have something against us before we offer a gift.
- We must not withhold our forgiveness because they have not apologized or because they owe us an apology. When we have been wronged we do not have to wait for them to apologize, God commands us to initiate a discussion that leads to forgiveness.
- We owe forgiveness to those who do not deserve it. In Acts 7 : 59-60, as they were stoning Stephen he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit”, and falling to his knees before he died, he cried out with a loud voice “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”. Can you imagine holding so much love and compassion for those who are literally stoning you to death?
Finally Jesus Christ Himself, on the cross, said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Each time we find it difficult to forgive someone, especially those who do not deserve our forgiveness, we must think about how unworthy we are of forgiveness, yet God loved us so much that He was able to forgive us. If we are unable to forgive, it can only mean one thing, that our heart is filled with hatred, that we have no compassion. God has freely forgiven our debt, we also should practise forgiveness.
God takes forgiveness seriously, that’s why we want to encourage all of us to focus on forgiveness for 2019. Let’s empty our hearts of all the pain, hurt, bitterness, resentment – none of these serve us, they only become obstacles to receiving blessings. If we do not forgive others, there are consequences, please study the parable on un-forgiveness in Matthew 18 : 21-35. We must stand upon the word in Psalm 139 : 23 Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. Amen!
I found a special Prayer to support us on our journey that I would like you to share with you.
Father, today I release the glory of the Kingdom of Haven into my unconscious, sub-conscious and conscious mind, and into my memories, to purge and clean them so that I may receive supernatural revelation from Your Word to change my life. I release the life of God through the Gateway of Revelation in my Spirit like a river, to flush and wash and restore my mind so that I may have the mind of Christ in me, that the actions of my body may reflect the Kingdom of God and its outworking in my actions and to those around me.