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).
"If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Jesus, Matthew 6:14-15, NIV).
It is interesting that this exhortation from our Lord comes immediately after what we call "the Lord's prayer" in Matthew 6, just following the words "deliver us from the evil one." Unforgiveness is an evil that can invite other evil into our lives.
Since God our Father has forgiven us, we must also forgive others. When we pray the Lord's prayer we actually condemn ourselves if we pray the prayer without forgiving those who may have offended us.
Whenever we hold a grudge, we are asking for trouble. One friend who was very dear to me had a grudge that was just consuming him. I pleaded with him about his problem, because I knew it was affecting his health. He was sick constantly. He went through all kinds of difficult operations.
With great compassion for my friend, I spoke to him with love but honesty, "Your problem is that you are filled with hate, and unless you get rid of this hatred in your heart, you'll kill yourself."
I really believe that. Fortunately, as far as I know when he died he had cleared up all accounts and had made the profession of his faith in Christ, which is very encouraging.
Experts say that bitterness and unforgiveness can, indeed, make us sick and kill us. Some believe that unforgiveness can even cause cancer. I do not doubt that. It can eat on us spiritually like a cancer. I have no trouble believing that it can affect our cells because our spirit, soul and body are so interrelated.
Unforgiveness can also hinder our faith and prayers. It is no accident that following His powerful prayer and faith exhortation, our Lord ended it with another reminder about forgiveness: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:24-25, NIV).
It helps us to forgive when we remember that God forgave us even when we do not deserve it. We must look upon others with the same compassion with which God looks upon us.
Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, "JESUS," which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Visit campuscrusade.com for more details
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