(From Chapter 9 of Don Whitney’s Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health)
The unforgiving spirit . . . is the number one killer of spiritual life. –James Coulter
Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive. —C.S. Lewis
1. Real Christians want to forgive.
- Three times in the Gospels Jesus directly connects our forgiveness of others with God’s forgiveness of us (Mark 11:25-26; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:37).
- “I say to the glory of God and in utter humility that whenever I see myself before God and realize even something of what my blessed Lord has done for me, I am ready to forgive anybody anything” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones).
2. Ready to forgive verses extending forgiveness.
- Biblical forgiveness is never given or required where there is no repentance. There is no unconditional unforgiveness.
- When Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who came against him while on the cross, it was only extended if they repented!
3. Forgive and forget?
- Nowhere in the Scriptures does it say for humans to “forgive and forget.”
- Scripture only says that God will not remember the sins against us anymore (Jeremiah 31:34; Psalm 103:8-11). Believers are called to not use forgiven sins against the offender.
- Satan will bring the offense and the offender to your mind numerous times, but we must be ready and willing to forgive each time (Luke 17:3-4).
- Be careful that you do not think you have forgiven just because you have forgotten.
4. Probing the heart
- Are you ready to forgive? Is there anyone you are not ready to forgive? (See Psalm 86:5)
- Do you need to initiate the process of forgiveness with anyone (1 Peter 4:8)?
- Do you love forgiveness?