As we have been discussing, one of the most freeing and empowering things in life is to hear the words: “I find no fault in you.” But it is equally freeing and empowering for us to say to another person: “I find no fault in you.”
In fact, giving and receiving forgiveness just go together. You can't have one without the other. To forgive is to be forgiven. To be forgiven is to forgive.
From my experience, when a person has difficulty accepting the forgiveness of the Lord, there is usually an equal amount of difficulty in forgiving one or more people in that individual's life. And the opposite scenario is also true. When there is unforgiveness toward another person, there is also unforgiveness held toward oneself.
There is a saying, “Refusing to forgive another person is like drinking the poison yourself, and expecting the other person to die.” While I use this expression myself from time to time, it is a one‐sided perspective on forgiveness. It is mainly used as a slap in the face to wake up the person being eaten alive with unforgiveness, but it doesn't address the effects of this toxic attitude toward its victim.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 NKJV)
And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. (Luke 11:4a NKJV)
From these two accounts of the model prayer Jesus gave us, it is clear that receiving forgiveness requires giving forgiveness. For me, this is one of the most difficult concepts to wrap my mind around, so let me illustrate.
The Bible teaches us that “all” sin has already been paid for “all” of us.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…. (Romans 5:12 NKJV)
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 NLT)
But just because Jesus paid for my sin to be removed and forgotten, doesn't mean I've made the exchange. Somebody can pay for me to have three months of free mowing by my local lawn and garden service. If however, I never bother to schedule them to mow my yard, the payment does me no good.
In other words, I am forgiven. But if I don't act like it, then I'm not. I am forgiven (as far as I'm concerned) only when I act like I am forgiven. And acting like I am forgiven means I must be forgiving to other people.
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 NKJV)
Jesus explained this principle further in another parable:
A certain king did an audit of his servants. The king found that one of his servants owed him approximately $12,000,000. The king decided to sell the servant, his wife, and his children to help pay down the obligation. But after much begging and pleading on the servant's part for more time, the king forgave the man's debt. (See Matthew 18:23–27.)
This same servant then went out and found a fellow servant who owed him a whopping $17. The servant with the small debt begged for mercy, but the servant who had the $12,000,000 forgiven had him thrown into prison. (See Matthew 18:28–30.)
Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. (Matthew 18:32–34 NKJV)
Then Jesus issues a final warning to us if we think we are somehow exempt from forgiving certain people in our lives:
So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. (Matthew 18:35 NKJV)
If I have someone in my life that I just can't seem to forgive, am I headed to hell? Are all the people who hold grudges headed to hell? These are reasonable questions to ask based on this group of Scriptures.
I cannot answer for anyone else, but I can answer for me. If my eternal salvation depends on everything in my life being in order at the time of my physical death, then I probably won't be going to Heaven.
The only way I could possibly have everything in order at my physical death would be for God to give me an exact departure date at least two days out, and then keep me from having any contact whatsoever with other people. Because if I have any contact with other people then I will probably leave this earth with something out of order. Are you with me?
So if you are scratching your head along with me and wondering, “Who then can be saved?” you are in good company. The same question was also asked by the disciples after hearing Jesus talk about another equally difficult subject. (See Mark 10:26.) But do not forget the grace of God. Tomorrow we will dig deeper.
Please just remember what we talked about previously regarding the nature of God. He is not interested in finding you guilty. He is interested in making you innocent. He wants to pull you out of your guilt and shame and lift you into the innocence of His presence. He wants you to live with no more conscience of sins. (See Hebrews 10:1–21.)
When we hold on to our own guilt and shame, or when we try to put guilt and shame on somebody else, we live with a conscience of sins. And a conscience of sins gets in the way of experiencing His presence. We simply can't have our head in both places at the same time.
He wants us to get out of the guilt and shame business, entirely. There's no profit in it. There's nothing in it but stress.
Have a good day,