A recent study of prisoners found that if you could encourage them to forgive others and forgive themselves it will change their lives and their chances of being incarcerated again is dramatically reduced.  I heard this on the radio and have tried to find that study but haven’t.  This information didn’t surprise me because a major reason that Christ came as the Messiah was to forgive those who accepted Jesus as the son of God and accept Him as their Savior. It is a life changing experience to be forgiven, released from guilt and have all previous and future sins eradicated.  To God, forgiving is a must for us!  Enough of a requirement that man needed to have a “forgiving spirit”, that He sent Christ to teach us the power of forgiveness in order for us to live the life God had planned for us.  An unforgiving spirit will stifle man’s peace and happiness and prohibit living an ordained moral and ethical life.

Many people grow up in dysfunctional homes.  They have been abused mentally or physically.  Sometimes in life something bad has happened that develops this unforgiving spirit.  Our self-centered nature causes emotions of resentment, hatred, holding grudges and a passionate urge for revenge or to get even, somehow or someway.  We may have been taken advantage of and until we get even, justice has not been accomplished.  It is possible we could have emotions that just seem to run wild and uncontrollable.   Too often people make dumb choices and end up with extremely negative attitudes, periods of self-doubt and self-pity and often having that “unforgiving spirit”.  It is this spirit that causes them to be at war within themselves and with the world.   Our resentments can become so bad that we fail to make moral and logical decisions thus leading to jail time.  Don’t you think it possible that being unable to forgive can drive someone to commit criminal acts?  If you are a parent and have three or more children, chances are you have repeatedly seen revengeful acts.  One causes the other to get even.  In fact, we are hearing of children killing parents or a brother or sister because of their inability to forgive.  It seems because of our unforgiving spirits we our living in a chaotic world that is getting worse.  When Jesus said: at the end-times we would be living like the people lived during Noah’s life-time?  How bad was it that God regretted having created man and destroyed them by a flood?

If you have had a problem forgiving someone or yourself, it is because our carnal nature is not to forgive but to get even.  So how do you convince a person the importance of forgiving, even non-believers?  The Bible is full of Scriptures that tells us that forgiving may benefit us more than the person we feel we are unable to forgive.  But since it is our nature to be unforgiving, this is why Christ taught the importance that each of us must be released from this emotional grip on our heart that causes stress and often injurious to one’s health, in addition to sometimes evil actions.

In Scripture Jesus told His disciples that if anyone held a grudge against another person or if they became angry or bitter over something that was done to them or if they had an unforgiving heart they had better get over it if they wanted their prayers answered.  Being self-centered human beings that we are and having a carnal nature, it is sometimes difficult to overlook something that someone has done to us. Life is not always just a “big bowl of cherries”.   However, if we as Christians or any human wants to remain healthy, we had better learn to get rid of the baggage of anger, bitterness and having an unforgiving spirit.

Matthew 6:14 – 15 – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18:21 – 22 – “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?”   Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”  Peter asked if seven times was enough and Jesus said it was 77 times or there is no limit.”

Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Mark 11:25 – “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Do we live to please God with our attitudes and our actions?  God’s mercy and compassion has forgiven us of our sins.  It is now required that we forgive others as He has forgiven us.  Scripture says that if we are unwilling to forgive others we shall not become one with Christ.  But you may say: You have no idea what others have done to you.  My answer would be, have you ever been placed on a cross and asked God to forgive them for they do not know what they are doing?  Living a Christian life is so different from how the world lives.  If we are trying to live a Christian life on our own without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, chances are we will fail.  It is only when we totally die out to self, allow the Holy Spirit to completely guide us, that we will become more and more Christ-like.  The sooner we begin listening to the Holy Spirit the sooner we will become spiritually mature and the more we will be blessed.  Then we can expect to see more blessings in our lives.  Scripture says: God wants to bless us!  Are we allowing Him to?  Chances are it will not happen as long as we have an unforgiving spirit influencing our thoughts and actions.

Our church has a ministry: “God Behind Bars” led by Jake Bodine.  Think what would happen if every prisoner could develop and have a forgiving spirit.  The unforgiving spirit is a negative, addictive spirit that wants control and it is possible this unforgiving spirit caused them to be in jail.  In most cases, one cannot change without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.  But if we could eradicate this unforgiving spirit world-wide, what a difference we would see. However, chances Satan, the great deceiver, would not let that happen.  When Christ returns to rule for a 1000 years we will live with a forgiving spirit as we will have a Christ-like mind.  It is possible for believers today!


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