The reason why we can forgive is because we were forgiven of all our sins. Our forgiveness is meant to be our motivation to forgive others. Knowing that God forgave us is the compass to allow us to evangelize and disciple others. Having a heart of forgiveness actually makes evangelism and discipleship easier, because knowing that we received something that we did not deserve is the fuel to the fire that resides in us.
There are times that the spirit of forgiveness can be hindered. Being judgmental, condescending, and lackadaisical are a few common factors for unforgiveness. Although our society has made it acceptable to live in such a manner, a lack of forgiveness interferes with our relationship with God. Matthew 6:15 clearly tells us that “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Unforgiveness becomes a cancer that keeps us away from God. It eats away all the love that God has poured into our hearts. It becomes baggage that weighs us down and forces us to internalize our struggles instead of sharing God’s love. We ignore the fact that we must forgive in order to receive forgiveness. It is an A.C.T. that needs to take place and knowing how to do so is simple.
First, we must refuse to cover the sin of unforgiveness. It is natural for unforgiveness to exist, but we cannot pretend that it doesn’t, and think that it is the best thing to do. If we deny our internal struggle to forgive, it builds up and creates a callous that prevents us from truly loving like Christ.
Forgiveness cannot take place without God, and we cannot even start the process if we do not at least admit our unforgiveness to Him. Reading the Bible and praying allows God to speak to our hearts. We acknowledge that It is not an easy road to travel, and it is definitely an uncomfortable one to embrace, but it is one that will then bring us closer to God and bring forth healing in the process.
After we admit that we have unforgiveness, we must then confess them. 1 John 1:9 tells us that confession is the path to forgiveness. All believers have the opportunity to confess their sins whenever they want because there is direct access to our heavenly Father (Hebrews 4:16). We are made righteous through Jesus. God no longer views us by our sins, but through the grace that has been given to us through the shed blood of Jesus. This is the key to confessing our sins, or as some like to say, “man up.”
After we admit that we have sinned and then confess the sin of unforgiveness, we get to do something that makes us the believers that we are: transform. When we are transformed by God’s forgiving power, we are renewed and are untangled from the world’s thinking. Transforming is something that we must do in a way that cuts all ties from who we were before. The same way God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), we too must remove our old habits of unforgiveness and follow His ways. Our thoughts, behavior, relationships, and responses change for the better because we have been transformed.
Then, once we have been transformed, we are able to tell others how to do the same. Looking past who they are, removing any judgment or prejudice that may come with what we see or have experienced, and now able to view everyone through the lens of God’s forgiveness and help them ACT accordingly as well.