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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS

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

unforgivenessUnforgiveness can affect every facet of your personal life. It impacts the mind and spirit, and creates tension and anxiety. Most importantly, unforgiveness is the disobedience of God’s Word. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)

Unforgiveness may lock the mind in an ongoing stressful state. (“The Negative Effects of Unforgiveness on Mental Health”, Theravive April 28, 2014) Researchers report that people who tend to be unforgiving reported higher rates of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who reported they do not have this characteristic. (Feldman and Kravetz, “Grudge Match: Can Unforgiveness Be Bad For Our Health?Psychology Today 2013)

Unforgiveness is not a desirable characteristic for either the physical or spiritually healthy life. Jesus said:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)

This is a very serious statement and deserves very serious thought. An unforgiving spirit is a sin that separates you from God. It can be a sign that you are not really saved, but to the true Christian it conveys the importance of making Gospel progress. Contemplate the following verse:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

Striving for peace and holiness is essential to progressive sanctification. With the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit, the born-again believer rises each day with the determination to become more like Jesus. He goes daily to God in prayer for the forgiveness of sins and to petition His mercies. But, if he is unforgiving, how can he go to God for forgiveness and mercy? Does he dare think that God does not recognize his hypocrisy?

If you truly understand the enormity of your own sins against God, the wrongs of others toward you will seem very small. If you have received the unmerited grace of God, you should pass on unmerited grace (forgiveness) to others. The spiritual gratitude which flows from the sense of what God has done for you is the key to forgiveness. However, in this world there are no perfect Christians.

In the course of your life, you will often be tempted to hold grudges for perceived injuries. It is often very difficult to forgive someone who has caused you pain. In my life, there have been times when I have held on to unforgiveness for months and, I’m ashamed to say, years. I know that many times my prayers and communion with God have been hindered by unforgiveness. It will make your witness and worship dry because you cannot honor and glorify God while attempting to hide sin or justify it. Do not sin by failing to love or pray for those who offend you. (Matthew 5:44 ESV)

When such times are upon you, you must rush to God to pray sincerely that He would help you to forgive and then forgive you for your unforgiveness. When you forgive and love one another, you prove that you abide in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV) Therefore, if you are offended by someone – forgive as God has forgiven you – for you are the beloved of God. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

 

 

 

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