Unforgiveness Stops Our Growth
Unforgiveness keeps us from moving forward in our lives. The devil effectively uses offenses to keep us in unforgiveness, which stifles the presence and power of God. If we are focusing on what sins others have committed against us, we aren’t keeping our eyes on Jesus and following His example of faith and trust in the goodness and grace of God.
Matthew 6:14 is pretty clear as Jesus told His disciples,
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
When we aren’t forgiving of others, our hearts condemn us because it knows that’s not right.
We MUST walk in God’s Presence every moment of every day if we want to walk in victory in our lives. We MUST have the wisdom and favor of God every moment of every day if we want to enjoy our time here on the earth and fulfill His good plans for us on the earth. So we MUST walk in the conviction that WE are forgiven and we just can’t do that when we are carrying around unforgiveness in our hearts toward others. God loves them unconditionally. He wants good things for them. He wants freedom for them. He may even want to use us to bring them that freedom.
If we are bound up in unforgiveness toward them, we will miss the opportunity God sets before us because of a vindictive spirit or root of bitterness toward them. Jesus’s blood was shed for them just as much as it was for us. If we love Jesus, we will forgive those that hurt us or used us just as we have been forgiven in Christ.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Forgiveness Is For Us
Honestly, when we forgive, it is just as much for us as it is for others. Unforgiveness steals the sense of God’s love and favor from us — leaving us to wander around our lives with the indistinct sense of God’s disapproval. When we focus on the sins of others and our grievances with their behavior, we have taken our gaze off of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. Paul admonishes us in Hebrews 12:1-2,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Unforgiveness is one of those things that entangles us and hinders us from walking in the fullness of our salvation in Christ! Imagine trying to run a marathon with your shoes tied together. You might be able to take very small steps, but you would trip up over and over again.
Now imagine seeing your shoelaces tied together and still deciding to run in that condition anyway. You wouldn’t expect to win like that would you? It would sad to watch a runner get up from a fall and begin to run again, just to stumble right over the same tied shoelaces throughout the whole race! But we do this all the time when we refuse Paul’s admonition to lay aside the things that trip us up — like unforgiveness.
Victory Comes From Forgiveness
If we will choose to forgive those people, to release them of the debt they owe to us, and trust God with our lives, we will again walk in the Presence and Favor of God. Instead of tripping around the race track, we will be like a finely trained athlete. David alludes to this in Psalm 18:29 as he says,
For by You I can run upon a troop;
And by my God I can leap over a wall.
David could have held a grudge against Saul for how poorly he had been treated by him. He was a faithful servant and served and blessed Saul on numerous occasions, but in response, Saul tried to murder him multiple times! In spite of this, David kept a good attitude and simply trusted God to protect him and bless him. He was able to leap over the wall of unforgiveness and run the race of faith in God with endurance. Let’s commit today to do the same! God’s grace will help us if we will decide that is what we are going to do.