Christmas is celebrated because God sent His only Son Jesus to be born as a baby in human flesh, in order to finally die to shed His blood and wash the sins of mankind and save our souls from present and eternal destruction.
Anyone who repents, believes, and accepts God’s offer of Christ as his or her personal Savior and Lord, is finally FORGIVEN; and then receives new life in Christ.
Christmas is, therefore, a season of FORGIVENESS. God has given us an example to follow.
IF THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS, THEN THERE IS NO REAL RELATIONSHIP
If people in any relationship do not understand at the beginning or realize and accept as they go along, that forgiveness is a central pillar in their relationship then they should not be surprised or disappointed when a productive and satisfying relationship eludes them ---- because it will NEVER happen.
You cannot experience a fruitful and enjoyable friendship or relationship involving dating, courtship, marriage, in-laws, schoolmates, colleagues at work, committee or board members, neighbors, church, ministry, institutions, organization, community etc., if you are not someone who humbly works hard in the area of FORGIVENESS in order to achieve consistent peace, love, unity, and harmony at all times, and at all levels of your interactions.
Every fractured, broken, or shattered relationship, needs unconditional forgiveness on all sides, for complete healing and full restoration of the relationship.
When people are at loggerheads with each other, and not on speaking terms because of anger, hurts, resentment, and disappointment, they need to sit up and become concerned about mutual forgiveness, deal with their differences and hurts, agree to bury the past, and move together again in love and unity.
LOVE AND TRUST
Love and trust form the fundamental bedrock for any close, healthy, satisfying, and productive relationship.
And, love is very closely linked to forgiveness. I commonly define love as “giving and forgiving”.
Therefore, to talk about love and try to demonstrate love, without talking about forgiveness and demonstrating forgiveness, is like talking about ice cream without talking about milk, or talking about steak without talking about meat.
Forgiveness is a contract you sign with God in your heart (best way to do it is in prayer), to end the inner conflict you have with the offender, and your willingness to drop all charges, hurts, and possible vengeance towards the person, and leave the entire matter (what has happened) into God’s Hands.
You also ask for the grace and strength of God to continue to do good to the person who offended you, and sincerely get along nicely with the one, as much as you can.
This is because in some cases, the other person does not cooperate, and either won’t want to forgive you and put the matter behind in order to relate to you nicely or might decide not to get close to you anymore, except on very casual terms as necessary.
In such a case you prayerfully open your heart to cautiously and lovingly do the best you can to relate to the person as God requires of you, and allow the Lord to deal with the one gradually.
Caution and wisdom become important in such situations because you might take some unwise steps just to please the one, and rather make matters worse.
That is why God says: “IF IT IS POSSIBLE, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Which means SOMETIMES IT IS NOT POSSIBLE as we expect ---- but we must pray and hope for the best as time goes on.
No relationship can be fully restored if the people involved are unwilling, reluctant, or unable to forgive all offences, then bury the past bitterness or disappointment, and unite to work harmoniously again.
Trust is the next step they need to work on, which will take some time for full trust to be totally built and restored. Trust is closely linked to honesty, integrity, and faith.
Broken trust is a very tough thing to rebuild and restore because trust is like a certificate --- you don’t just get or receive it, but you earn trust. It takes quite some time of many truthful words, sincere and loving acts, and the right forms of behaviours, along with an exhibition of honesty and integrity, for someone to fully open his or her mind and heart to trust someone again, after a heartbreaking disappointment.
The unwillingness and inability to forgive oneself after committing an offence, especially a grievous sin or crime, constitutes one of the most powerful agents that drain spiritual, moral, mental, and even physical strength from us.
This happens even in the lives of committed Christians who cannot consistently live in faith and obedience and are not able to accept God’s promise of forgiveness by faith.
The devil uses guilt as a major tool to accuse and condemn you, discourage you from drawing near to God for fellowship and joy, and prevents you from believing God and accepting who you are in Christ in order to be peaceful, joyful, fruitful, and successful.
Degrading and devastating sins that are condemned so much by the public and vehemently condemned by the church, such as fornication, adultery, different forms of sex perversion, pornography, abortion, divorce, marital or child abuse, murder, robbery, financial dishonesty, bribery etc. are high on the list of sins we commit and cannot easily forgive ourselves.
Other offences pertaining to lies, deceit, impersonation, slander, gossip, defamation of someone’s character, and addictions of various kinds, can put constant guilt in the consciences of people as well.
In fact, any kind of offence can be troubling for anyone with a tender and sensitive nature or spirit, and the devil in conjunction with the world, can take any lapse, omission, or violation to hammer on the person’s mind and spirit, and make him or her feel constantly ashamed and guilty.
When that happens after genuine confession, constantly fight the guilt and shame with scriptures such as: “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
God has warned us that if we do not forgive others from our hearts, he will not forgive us when we sin against Him (Mathew 6:12, 15; Mathew 18:35; Mark 11:25, 26).
The act of un-forgiveness is itself an act of sin.
There is a strong biblical basis why we must do our best to forgive our spouses, children, parents, brothers, sisters, other relatives, and friends who violate or offend us, no matter the nature and magnitude of the offence.
We know that the conditions differ (severe or mild), and several situations arise where the crime or evil that is committed is so grave that the damages cannot be easily undone, or even repaired.
Some grave offences can eat very deep into us and become extremely difficult to exercise forgiveness for.
For example, if a beloved fiancee or spouse whom you served and sacrificed so much for, later becomes very unfaithful to you, violated or abused you, and later abandoned you for someone else, then it becomes a herculean task to forgive.
Or, someone you trusted with your precious money, business, property, position, or ministry, but who squandered and grossly mismanaged your money and resources, betrayed the trust and destroyed your legacy.
But, tough as it is to become friends or share a close relationship with the one again, that does not mean the offence should not be forgiven in our hearts, even if the one committed murder or had to be imprisoned in the process.
FORGIVE AND FORGET
Forgiving and forgetting an offence does not really mean that the offence would never come into your mind again after you have made the effort to forgive the offender.
It means that you open your heart for the power of God and application of scripture to destroy the poison of the offence in such a way that even if it comes into your mind at any time, it cannot have any negative effect on you and hold you in bondage. This is because the grace of God and your constant practice of love, have neutralized the original poison and pain that was created within you.
IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVENESS
We must quickly, honestly, and freely forgive the offences of others, develop a spirit of forgiveness, and enjoy living a life of forgiveness because:
1) We have experienced God’s forgiveness.
God has forgiven us through Jesus Christ and paid a great price of His own life to redeem us freely, which should give us cause to develop mercy, kindness, and compassion for others (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2: 13).
2) God commands us to forgive offences.
Living in un-forgiveness means living in disobedience to God and transgressing one of His holy commands (Luke 6:37; Ephesians 4: 31, 32).
3) God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others.
We rob ourselves of God’s forgiveness for our offences against Him because He has warned us that if we do not forgive others, he will not forgive us (Mathew 6:15).
4) Forgiveness is liberating.
Forgiveness sets us free from the bondage of holding grudges that breed bitterness, anger, frustration, pain, malice, unkindness, evil thoughts, gossip, slander, and even wickedness that sap our energies, rob us of our joy, destroy our peace, and disturbs our focus in life. The offender also feels liberated when we make him or her know that we have forgiven the offence, and lifts the burden of guilt and any sorrow or self-pity from him or her (2 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 4:32).
5) Forgiveness enables us to experience and produce the fruit of the
Forgiveness opens the door for God’s light to destroy the darkness of the devil and sin in our lives, which consequently creates the path for God’s love, joy, peace, and all the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in our lives.
6) Forgiveness builds godliness in us.
Forgiveness is a fundamental character of God that accompanies God’s love that caused Him to give us His only begotten Son Jesus to die for us, in order to forgive us of our sins and establish a relationship with us.
Constant forgiveness, therefore, causes us to grow into the likeness of God as we allow the Spirit of God to develop more of God’s character in us in our marriages, family lives, friendships, ministries, business affairs, and all of our relationships. Forgiveness is a discipline that requires wisdom, vigilance, patience, and diligence, and therefore contributes to building discipline in our lives, and enables us to become more responsible towards people.
7) Forgiveness empowers us.
A life of forgiveness opens the door for God’s power to fill us for a life of holiness, authority over the devil, and true service. Anybody who nurses and harbours an unforgiving spirit is a spiritually (and sometimes even physically) weak person. True forgiveness emboldens a person in any relationship to proceed freely with his or her activities without inner hindrances of bitterness and resentment in the heart, spirit, and mind.
8) Forgiveness gives us respect, honour, and integrity.
People have lesser respect for a forgiving individual, than someone who is quick to revenge, hold grudges, resent, confront, shows disapproval, and gets even with anyone who offends him or her. Forgiveness goes along with mercy, kindness, gentleness, love, sincerity, open-heartedness, transparency, and cooperation, which are virtues that attract people to the possessors of such excellent qualities and win a lot of respect from their admirers (Ephesians 4:32).
9) Forgiveness protects us.
Since God loves forgiveness, and it is also part of God’s basic character, a life of forgiveness draws a constant flow of God’s divine and protective Presence into the life of a forgiving Christian. Forgiveness also saves us from drifting into trouble with any bitter or vengeful remarks and slander or yielding to any temptation to indulge in malicious acts that can land us in danger, offend God, and get us into the grips of demonic forces.
10) Forgiveness builds mutual fellowship and relationships.
Is there any factor that spices, flavours, energizes, defines, and gives true meaning to true fellowship and productive relationships than forgiveness?
We know that love is the fundamental glue that bonds people together, but it is impossible to allow love to operate if forgiveness does not constantly make us forgive offences of the past and present, push them behind, and continue to love one another.
Un-forgiveness for the offence committed against you by a parent, child, relative, or close friend, could spill over and cause you to extend the bitterness and grudge towards someone who was close with the one who originally offended you, even after the death of the offender.
A person nursing a hurt and a grudge can infect anyone who is close, a whole family, and even the surrounding atmosphere and community with a dark and gloomy spirit of bitterness, vengeance, the poison of negative words and criticisms, and a spirit of unhappiness.
A spouse or fiancée with a spirit of un-forgiveness cannot enjoy his or her marriage or relationship because he or she cannot love and appreciate the husband, wife, or friend as a gift from a loving and wise God.
11) Forgiveness is an act of worship.
Every act of forgiveness is also an act or worship, because every act of obedience is an act of worship, and God requires us to obey His command to forgive. God defines our worship as our lifestyle of dedication and obedience that enables us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God daily on an altar of worship (Romans 12:1, 2).
Forgiveness is liberating! It gives you excellent mental, physical, spiritual, and social health!
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