Forgiveness is not an option. It is not a suggestion. It is a command given for our well-being.
In His sermon on mountain-moving faith, Jesus made a connection between faith and forgiveness. He said, “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (Mark 11:24-25).
As far as God is concerned, unforgiveness is no small issue. It is wickedness. We see this in Jesus’ story of a servant who was forgiven a huge debt by his master. After the servant received his own forgiveness, he decided to deal with a fellow servant who owed him a small debt. But instead of forgiving this servant like he’d been forgiven, he had the servant thrown into jail for failing to pay. Upon hearing what he had done, his master became furious, called him a wicked servant and delivered him to the tormentors (jailers) until he paid all that was due (Matthew 18:23-35).
What a contrast this unforgiving servant was to Joseph. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph became the servant of a high-ranking officer in Egypt. Then he was unjustly accused of a crime and thrown into prison. After miraculously being delivered from prison, Joseph was raised to the highest ruling position in the land next to the Pharaoh. When he faced his brothers years later, instead of expressing bitterness, Joseph forgave them completely. His brothers thought that Joseph would treat them harshly but Joseph said, “No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” (Genesis 50:21).
Whether we’ve been abused, deserted, falsely accused or mistreated, we must always choose to forgive. We can’t wait for our feelings to change first, because forgiveness must be an act of the will, based on faith rather than feeling. We are to forgive others “just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). If ever there comes a time when old feelings of unforgiveness rise up within you, say by faith, “No, I’ve already forgiven that person. I refuse to focus on those old feelings.” And keep on forgiving. By the power of the Holy Spirit you will find that forgiveness becomes the “normal” lifestyle of an overcoming Christian!
If you’ve ever allowed yourself to be bound by anger and bitterness, forgiveness may sound like an impossibility, but it’s not! As a Christian, you have the love of God inside you. Yield to that love. Press into God and you will see His Anointing in, on and through you multiplied as never before!