Blog 15, FORGIVENESS SERIES: Conclusion: 060614:
Do you know why God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others? I’m sure there are a lot of Bible scholars and wise men and imminent preachers of the Gospel who might disagree with me, but I think the reason God won’t forgive the unforgiving is because He can’t. Yes, I know, God can do anything He wants to. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s true. But He can’t in this case, because the person who refuses to forgive is blocking himself from receiving God’s forgiveness. It’s just like in the situation about being converted and receiving salvation through Jesus. In order to be saved, we must receive the gift. If we’re not willing to receive the gift, by grace, through faith, we just won’t be saved. In forgiveness, if we don’t open ourselves up, and surrender the hate and the bitterness that are involved in holding a grudge against someone, we’re never going to reach the point where we can receive forgiveness. God is not going to MAKE us do this anymore than He’s going to MAKE us trust Him. If we don’t trust Him, we can’t receive rest. If we don’t forgive, we can’t receive forgiveness.
Are you familiar with Leviticus 19:18? That’s the second verse that Jesus quoted when someone asked Him what was the first and great commandment. On the first one He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.” And he went on to say, “And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” That’s the last part of Leviticus 19:18. The whole verse goes like this, “Don’t seek revenge; don’t hold a grudge; but love your neighbor as yourself.” That whole verse has a lot of meat. How are you going to love your neighbor if you hold a grudge? Holding a grudge is saying, “I’m mad and I’m not getting over it. I’m not going to forgive that person for what they did to me. I’m going to harbor this anger and this pain and this hurt in me until I can do something about it.” And revenge is just what a person does when they have kept on harboring these bad thoughts, lost all restraint, taken the law into their own hands, and decided to do something about it.
So here’s the question, “How can you accept God’s forgiveness, when you won’t forgive, and release yourself from the bondage you’ve got yourself wound up in because of your vengeful thoughts against that other person?” You can’t! That’s why God can’t forgive you. God’s forgiveness is as all-enveloping as the air we breathe; but if you won’t forgive, you can’t take a breath. Unforgiveness kills people every day. It makes them physically ill; it hardens their hearts; it hardens their bones; it makes them so they can’t breathe, physically or spiritually.
Forgiveness is so inextricably wound up with love that God can’t help but give it to us; and forgiveness is so inextricably wound up with love, that if we don’t forgive, and we can’t receive God’s forgiveness.