“So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye, from your hearts, forgive not every one his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:35
Jesus Christ desires that believers live in unity and fellowship with one another. Unfortunately, we are all sinners and we, at times, sin against other believers. In Matthew 18, our Lord teaches believers what to do when we break the spirit of unity with each other and offers the way for unity to be restored. Simply put, God expects us to forgive others sincerely and from our heart. When we truly forgive others, as God forgives us, we can restore unity and fellowship with other believers.
The Lord Jesus also gave instructions for prayer in Matthew 6 and offered His disciples a “model prayer” in verses 9-13. Specifically, in verse 12 the scripture says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Then in verse 14, Jesus said, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” But Jesus also warns us in verse 15, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
So, we can see from the previously mentioned verses that not forgiving others has serious consequences. God will not forgive our trespasses if we do not forgive others. Our relationship with God will not be right if our relationship with other brothers and sisters in Christ is not right. If we hold grudges, it can lead to bitterness. When someone is unforgiving and bitter, it can do great harm to the individual, as well as the body of Christ. Bitter Christians can hurt a body of believers and they can be used to create disunity in a church.
If we struggle with forgiving others, we need to remember that when we were saved, God graciously forgave all of our sin. He is the Righteous Judge and He pardoned us. We have been set free of the guilt and punishment of sin; therefore, be gracious to others, forgive them, and set them free. Then we can be in one accord, serving God together.
~submitted by Gary Smith