Forgiveness unlocks the door.

How do I forgive others?

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”   ~ Matthew 6:12 NIV

If we could understand what’s really at stake, we would be much more willing to forgive others. Forgiveness is the only way we are going to get through this life and make it to the next. Without apologizing, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving others, we can’t be forgiven. Forgiveness is what sets us free! Forgiveness is the most powerful ingredient for happiness.

Forgiveness unlocks the  door.

There is a supernatural power to forgiveness. It usually has more of an effect on us than on the person we’re forgiving. When we forgive others, it removes the burden of anger and resentment from us. Forgiveness doesn’t change the past . . . but it does change the future.

“But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~ Matthew 6:15

This might seem harsh, but it’s at the core of forgiveness. It’s in the middle of the Lord’s prayer… forgive us as we forgive others, in other words, forgive us for our sins in the same manner as we forgive others. Yikes! We had better get our brain wrapped around this if we really want God’s forgiveness. We need to start dishing out a whole lot more forgiveness if this is what God uses as a measurement for the amount of forgiveness we want to receive from Him.

When God forgives us for our wrongs, He totally forgives us. The Bible says He forgets them as if they never happened. “…For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” ~ Jeremiah 31:34, and here again, “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” ~ Micah 7:19. God doesn't know what we're talking about when we ask for forgiveness for the same thing over and over again. So, if that’s how God forgives us, that’s how we should forgive others . . . forgive and forget!

But, you might ask, how do I forgive the unforgivable, let alone forget it? How can I ever forgive someone that has deliberately betrayed or hurt me? You can’t! On our own, we will never be able to do this, but through the empowerment of God’s indwelling Spirit, we can. It’s only through the love of God living in us that we can do this.

How humble are you…?

We need to ask ourselves this one question, how good am I at asking for forgiveness? Are you willing to admit when you've said or done something wrong, or do you dig in and simply refuse to apologize? I’ve known people that were so stubborn and unwilling to apologize that they'd risk losing a relationship rather than apologizing.

Yes, it’s hard to humble yourself, admit you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness. Humility is one of the hardest things there is to do, it’s a direct hit to our pride—to admit we were wrong—but the after effect is well worth momentarily swallowing your pride. Admitting you were wrong and apologizing is incredibly empowering because it’s the only way we can affect the past! It’s the only thing we can do to undo what we’ve done. Plus, humility and admitting we aren’t perfect, enables us to avoid the pitfall of pride . . . Satan’s downfall.

In the second book of Corinthians, Paul talks about the power of forgiveness as well as the result of not forgiving—that through the act of not only forgiving but comforting and loving, we can actually help another heal and repent. He goes on to point out the key to forgiveness, to look within to see if we ourselves are without flaws.

“ . . . that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.”   ~ 2 Corinthians 2:9

Are we obedient in all things? Are we not in need of forgiveness? Have we not sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection? If we don’t forgive those that harm us, how can we expect God to forgive us? How can we expect Him to forgive us for our lifetime of sins if we can’t even forgive one person for one thing?

When we accept this very simple fact, the act of forgiveness will become much easier. Once I finally acknowledged what a huge sinner I really was and how God still loves and forgives me for every rotten thing I’ve ever said or done, I became much more willing to forgive others.

We so often think we’re so perfect that we would never do such a terrible thing to another person, but the fact of the matter is, we would, and have, to Jesus. Every single sin we commit, we commit against Jesus. Every sin we’ve committed is a lash He took for us!

Once we start to look at this reality we can get down off our high horse and become much more willing to forgive one another. This is the single most powerful thought to me, that every one of my littlest sins caused Him such horrible pain. This is the thought that makes me, not only willing but eager to forgive others.

Holding a grudge somehow makes us feel better than others. Satan knows this, and he uses our ego to trap us in an inability to forgive through this feeling of superiority. He knows that once we deny our own iniquity we become more like him, thinking we are superior.

“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”   ~ Ezekiel 28:15

Our new prayer needs to be, “Dear Lord, please forgive us for our narrow-mindedness, help us to forgive others as you have forgiven us.” God wants to answer all of our prayers, but we are blocking these blessings with our unwillingness to forgive others. Read this verse very carefully… this is Jesus speaking. This is so huge!

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”   ~ Mark 11:26

Are you getting this? I’m so grateful that God has shown me these truths. Not only that I will be forgiven, but that I shouldn’t be filled with the iniquity of thinking I’m better than anyone else. This is a deception that poisons our hearts. We must always forgive others!

“Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”   ~ Matthew 18:21-22

Now that we’ve finally learned how to get God’s forgiveness… join me next week as we ask; Why should I forgive others?

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You might say that I was a rather late spiritual bloomer, tripping my way into the Lord's arms not all that long ago. Nevertheless, I've been on the fast track ever since through a decade of Bible study courses and daily devotion. Changing careers a few years back and becoming a published author of Christian motivational books, leading to spiritual children's books and now this blog.

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