The Consequences of Unforgiveness
All of us, now and then, get offended and have to offer up our forgiveness to others. Forgiveness is a continuous process, not a onetime event. When we refuse to forgive someone for their offences against us, we in turn become bitter, resentful and angry. Forgiving someone is a choice, just like we have a choice to choose between life and death. Any person with a sound mind would not choose death. However many believers choose not to forgive others, or fail to forgive completely from their heart. If a fish refuses to swim, imagine what would happen to it. It is the same when a Christian refuses to forgive. They get devoured by the tormentor who torments them day and night.
In Matthew 18: 21-35 Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the unforgiving servant. A man had a huge debt, which he found impossible to repay. He pleaded with his master, who was generous and forgave him his entire debt. This same man goes out and finds his fellow servant who owes him a meagre amount of money. He seizes the fellow servant and starts to choke him, demanding to pay back what he owes. The fellow servant begs for mercy, but he refuses and puts him in prison until he paid back the full debt. When the master came to know how his servant treated his fellow servant, he became angry, because his servant showed no mercy over a little debt, when he in turn was forgiven such a huge debt. The master then hands him over to the torturers until he pays back the entire debt.
And Jesus concludes that His heavenly Father will do the same to us unless each of us forgive our offenders from our heart. The devil and his demons are the torturers. A believer will be tormented if he has not forgiven a person from his heart. Sometimes people say they have forgiven someone, but in fact they still harbour hatred for the person. If the very thought of their offender is upsetting, if people wish any harm to their offender or when they rejoice over their offender’s suffering, then that person has not really forgiven from their heart.
A person is exposed to the devil and his demons if he has not forgiven someone due to hatred, or has not forgiven completely from their heart, the demons will torture him day and night. Have you been bitter towards anyone or do you know any person that has been bitter all their life? You will realise and know how they have been tormented. They have no peace in their heart. They are unable to enjoy their lives since the only thoughts that linger in their minds are of hurt, pain, dread and offences. The devil and the demons make the most joyful person miserable, a healthy person into a diseases person, a happy marriage into a sad one, obedient children rebellious, disasters and suffering is all that awaits them. They begin to have financial problems; their prayers go unanswered. They grieve the Holy Spirit and they are unable to fellowship with God and hear His voice. Unforgiveness is the most gruesome suffering one can bring upon themselves.
Many times people think of their offenders as their enemy and seek revenge but actually our only enemy is the devil. If you best friend did not offend you then the devil would have found a stranger to offend you or anyone that he can influence to hurt you. Therefore don’t be mad at your offender but be mad at the devil. If a person’s heart is filled with hate, he won’t be able to forgive others. The only way to forgive someone completely is to have a heart of love, compassion and mercy. Matthew 5:44 tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. If we are unable to love, we will be unable to forgive as well. You can start your forgiveness by praying for your offenders, for their welfare and happiness. The instruction for the next step is found in Romans 12:20; if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
Your enemy, the devil, will be very busy reminding you of the offences and how hurtful your offenders has been. Instead of giving into bitterness every time you remember the hurt, pray for God to bless your offender. If you are aware of a need they have, explore the possibility if you could provide it for them; or pray for God to answer and provide for their needs. In that way you will be able to forgive them completely from your heart. If you are able to walk in love even when you are deeply hurt you have learned the greatest and the most powerful strategies of spiritual warfare and the devil and his demons won’t have any place in your life.
Many believers are tormented by demons due to unforgiveness. Please don’t let this be you. Give no place to the devil by being forgiving and merciful. If you have been bitter, then ask God to forgive you for not offering others forgiveness, when He himself has so generously forgiven you. Finally ask the Holy Spirit to give you the grace to forgive your offenders and reconcile with everyone. Sometimes you may not feel like forgiving, the important thing to remember is that forgiveness is not based on your feelings but on your decision to forgive. You stay firm with your decision to forgive and your feelings will eventually catch up with it.
As much as possible, live in peace with everyone. There are times when people may not want to reconcile and be at peace with you, in which case you surrender them to the Lord and offer up your forgiveness to them in your heart, even if they have never repented to you. That way you keep yourself free from all evil doing. We are accountable to God for our sins not for the sins of other people. Be merciful to everyone, no matter what happens, since God has been merciful to you first. Freely you have received, therefore freely give.
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