Sunday, April 14, 2013

Unforgiveness and the Havoc It Can Cause

Last spring as I studied my Bible to help me work through something difficult, I took notes as the Lord led me through it. I did not post it at the time because I did not want to add anything else to the situation. The Lord keeps putting it on my heart that I need to share it to encourage others going through similar circumstances to open their Bibles and seek the Lord. I am sharing it over the next five Sundays.

It is God-honoring when relationships are reconciled , and that doesn't just refer to marriages. If you have reached out in an effort to reconcile, but the other party has neglected to reciprocate, God will still bless you for desiring to honor Him. God will deal with them, and their spiritual lives will be hampered because of their hard heart.

At the end of the day, honoring God leads to good things. Anything else leads to confusion, emotional exhaustion and a lack of good things. Lisa TerKeurst

Unforgiveness is the willful choice to refuse to give up negative feelings and the right to get even demanding that someone has to pay for the offense you feel was committed against you or someone else. It is a very serious sin and has some very serious consequences.

Matthew 6:14-15 For 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.

At first glance, these verses look like you can lose your salvation if you are hold grudges in your heart. An overview of Scripture would prove nothing can separate us from God's love. When we dig deeper, we learn these verses are regarding our fellowship with God. When we hold onto those bad feelings about someone else, we suffer in our relationship -that closeness- with God. Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

"Well, I forgive them, but they will know I am not happy about it." Stop lying to yourself! You are still seeking a form of retribution so it's unforgiveness. You might be trying to punish the with your silence or absence knowing full well that is not what God wants. There are all kinds of lies we tell ourselves to let the harsh feelings stay. We need to be honest with ourselves about what is in our hearts. Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.

"It takes me time to forgive. It will take me a while to get over it. I'll avoid them until then." What this speaker is saying is that they are slow to obey, are not in touch with their own failings and God's redemptive work in their lives, and they will punish them with silence and absence. This is not our example. God doesn't treat us like that. I am thankful for the people who have exampled Him in my life by forgiving me quickly and eagerly. 

The other person is probably not affected very much by our unforgiveness. I know that disappoints you, but it's true. They don't get up each morning and wail "Oh no, so and so won't forgive me! They are still mad at me, and I just can't go on!" You are the one who will be wallowing in the filth of your rebellion to God's way of doing things! We can blame others for our misery, but doing that reaps us more frustration and hostility.

If they are a godly person who stumbled, they are going to probably forgive  you and move on with it. You are the one who will be suffering loss while they are trying to learn and gain all of the spiritual growth out of the situation. You look like a weak Christian, but they are growing stronger in the Lord. Their testimony increases while yours decreases. 

If what is going on in your heart is not right, you can attend church, sing in the choir, be a deacon or Sunday School teacher, help the needy, serve on committees, run a ministry, go on mission trips, etc...and you will still lack in faith and fellowship with the Almighty. He cares more about what is IN YOUR HEART. Unforgiveness is the opposite of godly love. It is not Christ-like. In fact, unforgiveness goes against the very thing Jesus exampled: forgiveness. When we see it, we need to rid ourselves of it immediately.

Here are a few ways unforgiveness negatively affects us:

·     Bitterness in our attitudes, actions, and words affects those around us which in turn affects us. (Luke 6:45, Ephesians 4:29) 
·         Blocks our spiritual growth (James 1:22)
·         Hinders us in our witness (I Timothy 4:16)
·         Affects the acceptance of our offering (Matthew 5:24)
·         Hinders us in our prayer life (Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 66:18)
·         Hinders us in our worship (How can we demonstrate our love of God if we             are not obeying Him? John 14:15)
·         Affects us physically  (Proverbs 3:7-8)
·         Affects the counsel we give. We can't give godly counsel if our hearts are harboring ungodly feelings. (Proverbs 28:26, Proverbs 14:12)
·    We lose part of our harvest. (James 3:17)

Hebrews 12:14-15 says that we are to make every effort to live in peace and not miss extending grace because bitterness reaps us trouble and affects many people. This command requires our action and our communication with the other person. We are to forgive and extend peace. Just because we do our part does not mean they will do theirs. They may not know Christ as well as you do, so it's a good thing you exampled Him with your forgiveness. They may have other issues going on in their life. Their reaction doesn't matter! Forgiveness isn't about them; it's all about you and your relationship with Christ! That's why it is such a big deal in a Christian life.