The Issue of Forgiveness
- Part 3
by Pastor Bill Pevlor
Over the last couple of weeks, this column has
focused on the topic of forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness from God’s
perspective is so important I’ve decided to give you more food for thought on
From time to time all of us have seemingly good reason to hold a grudge;
that’s part of life. If you are going to live on this planet, you will be hurt
by other people. You cannot escape it. Even if you left this planet, you would
probably have your feelings hurt when your friends neglected to call or write.
Now that we’ve established that being offended is inevitable, how are
we going to deal with it? There are two choices, harbor anger, bitterness and
resentment or forgive. Hold them accountable for their wrongdoing or release
them. (In a previous column I pointed out the literal meaning of the Greek word
that is translated as forgiveness in the New Testament is to release someone
from punishment for some wrongdoing.)
Because of the inevitability of being offended in this life, there’s a good chance someone in your life has “done you wrong.” Because of their wrongdoing you feel as though they owe you something...they are indebted to you. Maybe they owe you some money. Maybe they “owe” you an apology. Maybe they owe you another chance. Maybe they owe you more respect. Whatever the debt, you are determined to make them pay.
Like the wicked servant in Matthew 18, you have probably even gone so far
as to have them thrown into prison. Not a literal prison, but a little prison
you have constructed in your own heart. A cruel and dark place where you keep
your debtors locked up, until you feel their debt is paid in full. Every once in
a while, in your own mind, you take them out of their cell to beat and torture
them. You may have people who have been locked up so long you can’t even
remember what their offense was.
It is tragic to see a person who refuses to release those who have
offended them. They imprison the offending party until they feel the debt is
paid in full, but in reality they are the ones who are held in prison by their
own anger and bitterness. They are the ones who are tortured most. There is
emotional torment for the person who lives a life of unforgiveness. True peace
eludes them. There is always a bitter memory; a continual replaying of hurtful
words and actions.
According to medical science, an attitude of unforgiveness is hazardous
to your health. Aside from the obvious headaches and ulcers, there is also an
increase in most other illnesses due to a weakening in the immune system from
the stress and fatigue caused by unforgiveness.
Worst of all, are the spiritual consequences. As the wicked servant
eventually learned, God will not forgive the person who will not forgive others.
His actions evoked the immutable law of Galations 6:7 – “Do not be
deceived; God cannot be mocked. A
man reaps what he sows.” Remember
the admonition of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 6, verse 14 and 15: “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
Some time ago Billy Graham stated the Good News from God’s Word
succinctly when he said: “If His conditions are met, God is bound by His word
to forgive any man or woman of any sin because of Christ.”
The first condition to obtaining forgiveness for the sins we’ve
committed against God is to receive the free gift of salvation He provided
through His Son, Jesus. Another important condition is that we also forgive
those who have sinned against us.
Remember the golden rule: “do unto others....”
Forgiveness - Part 1 Forgiveness - Part 2 Forgiveness - Part 4
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