Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 32 : Forgive Offenders | Day 219

Consider the Cost of Not Forgiving!

A woman adamantly declared, "I will never forgive my father!" She had grown up with the acute awareness that her father favored her younger sister, and she kept a mental record of all the things that he had done or failed to do that had deeply hurt her. Now, her life seemed to be a never-ending series of conflicts, disappointments, failures, health problems, bad judgments, and personal frustrations. She blamed them all on her father, which only increased her bitterness.

When she told me about her hatred toward her father, I asked her if she had ever prayed the Lord's Prayer. As she struggled to recall it, I began to quote, "Our Father which art in heaven ..."

She responded, "Oh, yes! Many times!"

"Do you realize what you told God in that prayer?" I asked. She looked at me with a puzzled expression until I explained:

An unforgiving person who prays the Lord's Prayer is asking God to not forgive him: “Forgive us our debts as [in the same way] we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12; see also Matthew 6:15).

After giving the command to forgive offenders, Jesus told a parable that explained the consequences for anyone who does not forgive an offending brother. “Then his lord ... said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt ... Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:32-35).

When this woman realized the seriousness of refusing to forgive her offenders, she asked God to forgive her for her bitterness and was then able to fully forgive her father. As the burden of her bitterness was lifted, she experienced a new sense of peace and joy in her heart. Other changes began to take place in her life as well, including the ability to lose excess weight that she had unsuccessfully tried to lose for many years.

Unforgiveness is a trap that cannot be escaped apart from the power of God.

The seriousness of God's warnings about unforgiveness should be a flashing red light in our minds, reminding and motivating us to forgive others. Let's take some time right now to search our hearts for any unforgiving attitudes that we are holding on to and choose to fully forgive those who have offended us.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard