Why do we forgive?

The Very Essence of Our Faith - Encouraging short sermons and devotionals compiled by The Commandment Co

Forgiveness is something all of us want to receive but most of us hesitate to give. Jesus makes it clear, however, that we can't have it without giving it. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15). These words allow no room for doubt or discussion. Forgiveness flows two ways. We cannot separate receiving forgiveness from extending forgiveness.

Forgiveness is at the core of emotional well-being. It is fair to say that unforgiving people are emotionally sick. Their bitterness is a disease of the spirit, and it is inevitable that the unforgiving person eventually will experience physical illness as well. Anger causes surges of adrenaline and secretes other powerful chemicals that attack the body. The stress we carry when we refuse to give or receive forgiveness affects our hearts, minds, and bodies. To make matters worse, both rage and depression contribute to obsessive behaviors such as overeating, workaholism, overspending, and even addictions to pornography and mood-altering drugs. We cannot rid ourselves of emotional pain and its side effects unless we are willing to forgive.

Unresolved anger keeps us from moving forward because it locks us in a time machine, frozen on the exact moment when a particular offense occurred. Fear of further injury makes us unwilling to move to new levels of relationship, not only with those who have hurt us but with anyone who represents a similar threat.

Furthermore, if we allow unforgiveness to continue, we are likely to experience depression, bitterness, or both. Yet more important than any of these concerns is the most serious consideration of all—the spiritual consequence of unforgiveness: alienation from God.

Forgiveness cannot begin until we admit our own failures. If we cannot do that much, we can neither give nor receive forgiveness. We cannot receive forgiveness without acknowledging our need for it, and we cannot extend forgiveness without admitting that because of our own imperfect condition we have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone else. For Christians, forgiveness is non-negotiable; it is the very essence of our faith.

Sermon Article adapted from Forgiveness: The Very Essence of Our Faith
by biblestudytools.com @biblestudytoolscom
January 27, 2022 — The Commandment Co