What does it practically mean to forgive :- To cease to feel resentment against an offender, to give up the right to get even or take revenge.The intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude about an offense.
Forgiveness is a requirement of all Christians, it’s not a suggestion, an opinion or based on feelings, but it is a direct and clear command from God. The word of God teaches that if we do not forgive, we will not receive forgiveness.
Matt 6:14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
As believers throughout our lives we will require forgiveness from God many times and he promises that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us. But he also tells us we should forgive as we have been forgiven….freely receive, freely give.
Sometimes we might feel like forgiving those who have hurt or offended us, is pretending as if nothing happened, condoning with the wrong or excusing the action and just letting them off the hook. We feel like if we just forgive them like that, they will not be held accountable, or they will think they did nothing wrong, but forgiving is about releasing the person and the situation to God, so that he can deal with it. Not forgiving someone does not really make them pay, or suffer for what they have done to us. In truth we are really only hurting ourselves and infecting our lives with the poison of bitterness.
Christianity is about relationship,God with man, and with each other, we cannot say we have a relationship with God and then bad relationships with each other. We cannot we say we love God and hate others, this makes us liars (because when we refuse to forgive, we give room to hatred).Unforgiveness is sin, and sin affects our relationship with God, it will hinder or block our prayers. To be more specific an unforgiving person is unmerciful, unkind and lacks compassion such a person lacks the love of God in their heart.
Ephs 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
God is not impressed with our works, ministry or various acts of worship if we are harbouring unforgiveness in our hearts (Matt 5:23-24) . He instructs us to go make things right with others before we come to him, even if we are not the one at fault. Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Harbouring Unforgiveness gives a foothold to the enemy (or an advantage) and a foothold can easily become a strong hold of the enemy in our lives. (2 Corinth 2: 10-11). Once you open your heart to unforgiveness then other unclean spirits will follow, bitterness, resentment, anger, malice pride and even hatred. Can you imagine all these unclean spirits living within us, what room would be left for the Holy Spirit to dwell? When you allow sin to reign in your body (or control you), you will become a slave to that sin(Rom 6:12).
The Word of God tells the story of the unforgiving servant, who after receiving mercy and forgiveness of a great debt, went away and shortly after forgot how great a debt he was forgiven. He met his fellow servant and displayed a violent and unforgiving attitude toward his him, even though he owed him a much smaller debt. His master heard of his actions and called him wicked and turned him over to be tortured, until he could repay his debt. Yes, having unforgiveness in our hearts will allow the enemy to torture us, with feelings of guilt, anxiety, insomnia, depression which are all poisons to the soul and contamination to our spirits.
So, unforgiveness will not only affect our relationship with God, and each other, but also affect us spiritually and emotionally and in some cases even physically (our health) . Research has shown that forgiveness improves our health: When we dwell on grudges, our blood pressure and heart rate spike—signs of stress which damage the body; when we forgive, our stress levels drop. Studies also suggest that holding grudges might compromise our immune system, making us less resistant to illness. (excerpt from The Science of Happiness)
Prayer is one of the most vital aspect of every Christian’s life, it’sour way of communing and becoming intimate with God, so if that becomes affected or infected, then our relationship with God becomes stagnant we stop growing and eventually become alienated from God our Father. Through the death of Jesus, God has reconciled the world to himself, not counting our sins against us, but willingly and freely forgave us from all our sins and in doing that, he has given us the message and ministry of reconciliation as his Ambassadors. (2 Corinth 5:19-20) Therefore, shouldn’t we freely and willingly and even gladly forgive others, showing ourselves as true ambassadors of Christ.
As dearly beloved children of God we have to cultivate a forgiving spirit, make it a habit to be quick to forgive. When someone offends or wrongs us, before they even seek our forgiveness, we should seek to forgive and release them. In this way we are safe-guarding our hearts from evil and not giving an inch to the enemy, preserving our relationship with God and also living in peace and harmony with each other in love.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. For love covers a multitude of sins.