Title: Benefits of Forgiveness
Date: Sep 6, 2013
Scripture: 1 John 4:20, Ephesians 4:31-32, 1 Timothy 1:5, Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:12-15, Matthew 18:15
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So, you know you're supposed to forgive others, but do you ever wonder what's in it for you? How will you benefit, if and when, you forgive? Let's look at seven benefits of forgiveness.
First, forgiveness puts you in a right relationship with God. First John 4:20 tells us, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot┬álove God whom he has not seen" (ESV). You can't have it both ways; loving God means loving others which includes granting and seeking forgiveness.
Second, forgiving others removes any roadblocks to your prayers. "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses" (Mark 11:25, ESV).
Third, it ensures that God forgives you. In Matthew 6, Jesus taught forgiveness as part of prayer, " and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors....For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (6:12, 14-15, ESV). When God has forgiven you of so much, why shouldn't He expect you to forgive others as generously?
A fourth benefit is found indirectly in 1 Timothy 1:5, "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (ESV). Real love comes from a good conscience; it means you've taken care of business with God. There is no barrier between you and Him. Nothing makes you feel guilty or ashamed to approach Him. Having real love means you forgive when you should and ask Him for forgiveness when it's necessary to do that.
Several of these benefits affect your relationship with others.
First, you experience reconciliation. You're at peace with others. "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (Matthew 18:15, ESV).
Secondly, it removes the bitterness which develops when you hold onto hurt or anger and refuse to forgive. "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV).
Lastly, forgiveness leads to personal spiritual revival; it energizes your spiritual walk. And it can do the same in your church too. This is why the New Testament instructions to the churches and believers emphasize forgiving others.
- Which of these benefits have you experienced?
- Where do you struggle with forgiveness?
- How has a lack of forgiveness impacted your relationship with God lately? With other people?
- Has bitterness set in? What are you doing about it?
- Which of the benefits discussed above do you find motivates you the most to do something about unforgiveness in your life?
It's nice to know you'll get something good out of becoming a person who forgives and seeks forgiveness. But it'll take more than knowledge. What steps can you take today to become that person?
Maybe you need to pick up the phone and call a friend to seek reconciliation. Or maybe you need to have a conversation with God first. Maybe it'll mean releasing the hurt and anger you carry; ask Him to handle it instead of holding onto it yourself and letting it become bitterness. Think it through; jot down the steps you need to take...then start with the first one and keep going. Ask for the Holy Spirit's help and the grace to enjoy the benefits of forgiveness.