I’ve had decades to reflect on my life, but rarely have done it to the extent I have since I made a commitment to actively pursue a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Without realizing it, I had been held captive by my past; my chains were guilt, shame, and regret for past sins. Without understanding why, I had been unable to move forward. My thoughts kept reliving sins that I had committed towards others and those of others who had sinned against me. I was able to move forward with my life only after trusting God’s forgiveness for my sins and by forgiving those who had sinned against me.
Forgiveness would not have been possible without God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. It is an act of love in the purest form. When we seek forgiveness in the name of Christ, we revere and please the Lord. When we forgive others their sins against us, we honor Him.
Forgiveness is a gift from God. It’s a gift of love and mercy. It unlocks the chains that prevent us from healing and moving forward. Yet forgiveness is just that — a gift. It is not an entitlement. It’s ours either to accept or reject.
In order to accept forgiveness, we must choose it. We choose it by faith, by repenting our sins and asking God for forgiveness in Christ’s name, and by forgiving those who have sinned against us.
Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.”(Matthew 6: 14-15)
It’s as important to forgive others for their sins as it is to be forgiven. An act of love, forgiveness demonstrates faith and obedience to God. It clears the path to a full and meaningful relationship with Him.
“The crowds were profoundly impressed by his answers – but not the Pharisees! When they heard that he had routed the Sadducees with his reply, they thought up a fresh question of their own to ask him. One of them, a lawyer, spoke up: ‘Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important commandment is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.”(Matthew 22:37-40).
Fortunately, it’s never too late to seek forgiveness. God is loving and patient: “Don’t forget this, dear friends, that a day or a thousand years from now is like tomorrow to the Lord. He isn’t really being slow about his promised return, even though it sometimes feels that way. But he is waiting, for the good reason that he is not willing that any should perish, and he is giving more time for sinners to repent.”(2 Peter 3:8-9)
But it is foolish to delay. The longer we dwell in the shadow of past sins in a self-imposed state of unforgiveness, the longer we place our relationship with God at risk. Unforgiven sins harden our hearts and tear at our soul – whether they are sins we have committed against others or sins committed against us. Forgiveness is the only way we can heal and move on. Forgiveness clears the path towards a relationship with God. Forgiveness is indispensable to our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.
When we decline God’s gift of forgiveness, or we refuse to forgive others, we are in essence turning away from God. If it becomes a recurring pattern, we jeopardize our relationship to Him.
“The Bible teaches us that when we repeatedly turn away from God, we can reach a point of no return. The reason isn’t because God won’t forgive us, but because our hearts have grown so cold and hardened because of sin. God still calls us, but we are too insensitive to hear His voice.” (Rev. Billy Graham, published by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “Answers,” December 28, 2004)
I’ve made my choice.
I’ve chosen the freedom of forgiveness, for which I am very grateful.
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