If you forgive others for their transgressions, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you.
I suspect someone has deeply hurt you. It may be an employer who
wronged you, a friend who betrayed you, a parent who abused you, or
a mate who deserted you. Perhaps you still have difficulty forgiving that
person. And honestly, you’re not sure if you should forgive. After all, doesn’t your offender deserve to pay for what he has done to you? No decision is more difficult or more crucial than choosing to forgive those who wrong us.
Until fairly recently, the subject of forgiveness was relegated to a Sunday
school nicety that was widely acknowledged but routinely ignored.
Yet researchers have uncovered convincing evidence of the physical and
emotional benefits of forgiveness.
Unforgiveness is a toxin in our bodies resulting in measurable physiological
effects, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. And forgiveness
is also crucial for our emotional health. When we choose to hold on to
an offense rather than release it, we are choosing to mentally replay that
painful episode and relive its resulting hurt. Allowing someone to injure us
once may be unavoidable, but who in his right mind would choose to allow
that same person to continue assaulting us?
However, forgiveness is the process by which we let go of a painful
experience—and the one who caused it—for our own emotional benefit.
Forgiveness is like letting go of a rattlesnake. The choice benefits the snake, but it benefits us even more! But the physical and emotional results of forgiveness pale in significance to the spiritual benefits of releasing those who have wronged us. Simply put: if you are unwilling to forgive others, God will not forgive you. Jesus made that claim in Matthew 6:14-15: “If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
There is an inseparable link between forgiving others and being forgiven by
God. Since our salvation is by grace alone, how is our willingness to forgive
others coupled with God’s willingness to forgive us? If we truly understood
the tremendous debt God has forgiven us, we would be more inclined to
extend forgiveness to others. Only when we understand the size of the debt
we owe God will we be motivated to beg for His forgiveness. And only
then will we be willing to show similar mercy to others who wrong us. It is
extremely difficult to give away what you have not first received.
Today’s devotion is an excerpt from “How Can I Know How to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt Me?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.