Stop looking for a loophole that you’ll never find

For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. Matt. 6:14,15 

I kinda think this was probably one of those times that Jesus was talking and lots of people got up to leave, saying that they had other things they needed to be doing right then – washing their hair, walking the dog, cleaning the baseboards…anything. Either that, or they stayed, waiting for a loophole that never came.

We love that God forgives us, but we have a hard time extending that same grace to other people. In Matt. 6:14-15, Jesus said that one cannot exist without the other. C.S. Lewis put it this way: “Forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved.” 

Does that mean that we earn salvation by forgiving people? Nope, but it does mean that grace received results in grace extended. Holding a sin over someone’s head shows that we don’t understand, appreciate, or fully accept God’s grace in our own lives. Refusing to let someone off the hook shows that we don’t trust Christ. Holding onto unforgiveness shows that we believe we are above God’s commands.

It doesn’t matter how it’s packaged, either. Resentment is unforgiveness feeling sorry for itself. Rudeness is often unforgiveness trying to regain control. “I just don’t care” is unforgiveness at a costume party, and God sees exactly who’s underneath the mask before it even walks through the front door.

So what are some signs that you haven’t forgiven someone?
You speak poorly of them. Eph. 4:29
You remind them of their mess up. Ps. 103:12
You want to get them back. Rom. 12:19; 1 Thess. 5:15
You feel satisfied when they face difficulty or things don’t go well for them. Prov. 24:17; Luke 6:28
You don’t care about them or if reconciliation ever takes place. Rom. 12:18

Believers have no excuse for unforgiveness. There is no excuse that God will deem acceptable. There’s no loophole. In Matt. 18:21-35, Jesus said we should forgive people, “Seventy times seven,” and told a story that lets us know in no uncertain terms that, ultimately, we don’t have a choice about it. So let’s get going with that today. There are people we need to forgive.

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P. Busby

Thank you for this blog, Cynthia. I learned about forgiveness when I was deeply betrayed – a betrayal that almost ended my marriage of 17 years. It took my almost two years to forgive because of the deep hurt. Even if our offering of forgiveness is not accepted, we are still instructed to give it freely to those we find hard to forgive. It’s healing and it is freeing. And God expects it. This year we will celebrate 38 years of marriage, and I know without forgiveness that would not be so.

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