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The Danger of Unforgiveness!

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Do you struggle with unforgiveness?

Did you know that unforgiveness can be dangerous? That it can hurt your relationships, not only with others, but also with God?
It can, but few people ever give it much thought. Someone may hurt us in some way that causes us to become angry with them. In turn this anger, if not resolved, leads to bitterness. That bitterness leads to unforgiveness. Unforgivenesss leads to a "broken relationship", not only with the person we are bitter towards, but with God also!
It can happen so "subtly". Someone wrongs us and the pain of what they did may seem devastating, it makes us angry. In time, in our anger, unless it is eventually "dealt with" (resolved), leads to bitterness. That bitterness becomes "unforgiveness". Unforgiveness is a sin! It can become our downfall!!
You see God does not want us to harbor unforgiveness towards others. Why you might ask? Well, because God is a loving God. He forgives us for our sin and in turn He expects us to forgive those who have wronged us:
  "Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
                                        (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV)
  “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
                                                   (Luke 6:37 NKJV)
You see Jesus was trying to convey to Peter (in the first verse) that as many times as he was sinned against, that he should always forgive! He also knows that we hurt ourselves by harboring "unforgiveness" towards others. We must be able to "let it go" (i.e. forgive).
This is never an easy thing for any of us to do, but it MUST be done! Now there are wrongs that many of us that have suffered that have hurt us deeply. A cheating spouse, abuse (whether physical, mental, verbal, spiritual, etc.), gossip, character "defamation" and many other things that I could not even begin to list! These things can hurt us deeply, there is no doubt, but there has to come a time when we turn the pain over to the Lord. We take it to the "foot of the cross":
 "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
                                             (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)
If we do not address it, IT WILL COME BACK to "haunt" us. It can cause us to close ourselves off from the world. Mistrust those around us (i.e hurt our relationships). Cause us to loose friends and those around us that we care about. It will also keep people from wanting to be around us:
 "The heart knows its own bitterness,
      And a stranger does not share its joy."
                                    (Proverbs 14:10 NKJV)
Most devastating though, hurt our relationship with God! How can it hurt it? Well, if we do not forgive those who have wronged us, we will not be forgiven ourselves:
 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
                                     (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV)
You see forgiveness is important to God. He, through His Son Jesus, forgives us for our sin against Him! He in turn expects us to be able to forgive those who have hurt us. You see God calls us to love those around us, even our enemies:
   “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
                                              (Luke 6:27-31 NKJV)
This is a hard thing for us to do, especially when its a deep wrong that we have suffered, but we must remember that God forgives us when we DO NOT even deserve forgiveness:
 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

                                                (Romans 5:8 NKJV)

Its really a small thing for us to forgive those who have hurt us when we think of the wrongs we have done to God in our sin, but yet He offers us forgiveness (and we do not even ask for it!)!!

You see God is love (1 John 4:8)! And love does cover over a multitude of sins:
  "Hatred stirs up strife,
      But love covers all sins."
                                         (Proverbs 10:12 NKJV)
 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
                                                 (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
How does love "cover over a multitude of sins"? Well, God loves us so deeply that He sends His own Son to pay the penalty for our sin! He forgives us, and we do not even ask for it! He, in turn, expects us to be able to love others this way, that is by forgiving them (even when they do not deserve it)!!

Now some "wounds" that we receive may take some time to heal. They can be deep. There is no doubt about this. But we have to be willing to take the time we need to seek God and ask for His help:

  "Seek the LORD while He may be found,
       Call upon Him while He is near." 

                                              (Isaiah 55:6 NKJV)

Adultery, molestation, character defamation, Abuse, let's take these for example. The pain and hurt (i.e. "wounds") that these wrongs can cause can be so deeply rooted. They can cause such "brokeness". That is, cause us to become "broken". In other words we could end up having the wrong responses to everyday situations (over reacting to small things, hurt easily, misreading situations, people etc.). And understandably so! We may carry these "hurts" around for years, but there has to be a time when we understand that these things have to be forgiven.

To do this we may have to go before the Lord and ask Him to help us. To heal our broken hearts. Help us give the pain over to Him. And ask Him to put love for these people in our hearts and help us to forgive them. It may not happen overnight, but IT WILL happen if we ask Him:

       "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

                                                    (John 14:4 NKJV)

You see forgiveness is important, "paramount" in our faith. Scripture is full of examples of forgiveness. Now when we are wronged anger is a natural response, but we have to be careful with it. It is not a sin to become angry, but it can become a sin if that anger goes "unchecked" and becomes unforgiveness. You see throughout the word of God we are told to be careful about our anger:
 "Be angry, and do not sin.
 Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be  still.  Selah"
                                                  (Psalm 4:4 NKJV) 
    Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."
                                      (Ephesians 4:26-27 NKJV)
Why should we be careful? It could cause us to give place to the devil. It could cause our ruin:
  "looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;"
                                           (Hebrews 12:15 NKJV)
  "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
     “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
                                      (Matthew 18:34-35 NKJV)
It can be very dangerous! We could end up alienating those around us, close ourselves "off". Not only that, it can hurt our fellowship with God and He cannot effectively use us in ministry. We could even end up doubting our faith, and (or) turning our backs on the Lord! And we could end up not being forgiven for our own sin!!
You see you have to ask yourself, "do I have an unforgiving heart, is there someone I have not forgiven who has hurt me?" You have to seriously search within your heart. This is not an easy thing for any of us to do! But we must do it!!
If most of us were honest we could probably come up with at least one, a few, or many people we have never forgiven? Now some of the hurts that were mentioned can cause deep wounds. Personally, I have suffered some of these types of wounds myself, they can be deep and they do hurt! You can carry them around for years and never even realize it! They can "impaire" you from living your life as God intended!! But God wants us to be free from our past and the things we carry with us that have hurt us, and (continue too)! The things that, "hold us down". Unforgiveness is a "big one" for many of us!
All it takes is for one hurt that we have suffered to be set aside, "buried inside us". One that we never deal with that can keep us from having a "healthy" life that God wants for us (Galatians 5:22-23). Keep us from being able to follow Him to the fullest (Matthew 28:19) . Keep us from loving others as we are called (John 15:12, 1 Corinthinas 13). But we have an "awesome" great God who can heal us from the hurt and help us to forgive them!
The question is not whether God will help us forgive them, but whether we will allow Him to help us forgive them!
So what do we do with this? Do we ask God to help us with our unforgiveness? Or do we just go on like we have, "business as usual"? You see being able to forgive is very "freeing". Letting go of past hurts and pain will give you a new "lease" (so to speak) on life! You see God wants us to be "free" of our past hurts, and molded (conformed) to His Son's image:
 "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
                                               (Romans 8:29 NKJV)
But sometimes, this does takes time, it does not happen overnight. You see we are all "works in progress". There is nothing to be ashamed of if you struggle with unforgiveness. We are all human! Its just the "nature" in us!! But God wants us to be "whole". He wants more for us! This can happen, but only through His Son Jesus!
When God gets us to a place where we can forgive others, their wrongs. Then, when we are hurt, others mistreat us, etc. We will be better able to forgive them. We will have a "tougher skin" (so to speak), fewer things will hurt us.
Not only that, but God can use us "fully" in ministry when our actions are not "dictated" by our past hurts! 
And we will be forgiven for our sin!
And we will be a "little" more "on our way" to being "conformed" to His Son's image! We will truly love others despite the way we are treated and the wrongs we suffer!!
So the next time you realize that you are harboring unforgiveness, just remember this, God loved you and had compassion on you when you never asked for it!
Something to think about?
Additional reading source:
The parable of the unforgiving servant, Matthew 18:23-35.
(References for parable: talent =75.60 lbs of silver, denarii =1 silver coin)

Rev. John Heintzman
Evangelist Non-Denominational
Any questions, comments, prayer requests?

POHOM Columbus, Ohio
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