God desires that men be reconciled to Him and to each other, that we may appropriate all that He prepared for us ‘before the foundation of the world’ Eph.1:4. One thing that may hinder this plan is our inability or unwillingness to forgive offence.
Forgiveness is the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ; we repent, are forgiven, and are poised to enjoy the benefits of citizenship of His Kingdom, as joint heirs. Jesus said it is impossible that offence not come Lk.17:1 but proclaimed a curse on the one from whom it comes. Therefore He recommends that offenders be rebuked, but forgiven when they repent – every time. What to do if offender fails to repent? Leave him to God, just as you do the one who rejects the free gift of salvation – forgiveness upon repentance. But we do not hold anything in our heart against him, choosing to pray for him instead, that the offended not become the offender!
Should we, who appreciate the gift of forgiveness that Jesus died to procure for us, not willingly extend this grace to others? Jesus taught us to pray God to forgive us as we forgive others Mt.6:12. The one who trespasses has crossed the line. However, the one who knows that at some point he too will need forgiveness, must be willing to give it.
Forgiveness is not optional, it is commanded Mk.11:25. Having received the Spirit of God, if we forgive, offenders are forgiven, but if we withhold forgiveness, the sin is against them Jn.20:22-23. But a greater sin is against us for we reject the prompting of He who lives in us. We dishonour Him, failing to draw grace to walk in the God kind of love He poured into our hearts Rom.5:5. Love forgives, over and over again. No one can love like this except by the power of God, for God is love.
Offence must be handled with caution and wisdom, else it causes festering of unwholesome emotions, even creates a root of bitterness. We need recognise that when we fail to forgive, we walk into a trap that severs us from our loved ones – God and man. We succumb to the hidden agenda of the enemy of God and man for discouraging forgiveness.
What is the ultimate goal of un-forgiveness?