Unforgiveness: The Way To Kill Growth In A Church

In September I shared the emotional results of not forgiving. Today I will share about the spiritual results of not forgiving and what we need to do to keep in fellowship with God the Father.

II. Spiritual Results of Not Forgiving

To be sure, Jesus offers eternal forgiveness to any who believe in Him (John 3:16). We are the Children of God according to John 1:12-13.  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.  who were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

However, although eternal forgiveness is secure, in order for God to be forgiving in our daily walk with Him, we need to be forgiving toward others. That's what Jesus meant when He said: "If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14–15).

In short, if you as a Christian bear a grudge against someone, you are still saved, but you are out of fellowship with God. I John 1:5-10 “If you live in the past, and focus on the disagreement of the present, you have lost a vision for the future.”

Forgiving Someone—Your Obligation and Motivation

Read Matt 18:21-35

But what if someone hurts us repeatedly? Isn't there a point when we no longer need to be
forgiving? Peter asked Jesus this very question (Matthew 18:21–22) “Then Peter came to
Him and said Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me?  Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

To what extent do we need to forgive?

Jesus's concise answer was—in so many words: "To what extent have you been forgiven?" (18:27).

Jesus then added a motivation to our obligation: "'Should you not also have mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?'" (18:33).

Jesus said that we should forgive others to the same extent that God has forgiven us. Completely.

If you have received forgiveness of your sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, you have the obligation to give forgiveness to those who sin against you: "Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).
Those words "just as" provide both your obligation and your motivation to forgive.

Truths Essential to Forgiving Someone

I have found two truths that have helped me with forgiveness:

Forgiving doesn't always mean forgetting. Forgiveness may include appropriate boundaries—staying away from the one who hurts you until God changes him or her. But remember, these boundaries have nothing to do with forgiveness. That's a heart issue between you and God.

Factor God's sovereignty into forgiveness. Nothing has helped me more than this principle when it comes to forgiving others. Over and over, Scripture reminds us that we can forgive because God is ultimately working through EVERY event in our lives to bring about a good result for us.

Examples in scripture are:
  • Joseph and his brothers - Genesis 50:20
  • David and Saul - 2 Samuel 16:11-12

Paul challenged us to have this perspective in everything (Romans 8:28).  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Bigger things are going on than the dead-end street of your victimization. God is at work.

 Yes, you've been betrayed. Yes, others have abused, backstabbed, and victimized you.

 Yes, you've been hurt—and it still hurts.

And yes, you've also been forgiven through your faith in Jesus Christ.

Sacrificial love has transforming power.

Does that same grace urge us to forgive others?
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since, we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  

Forgive and follow Jesus!

-Bro. Ken Hawkins
Senior Adult Pastor
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