Many of us are familiar with this passage in Luke.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Luke 6:37
How many of us truly understands what this means? Let’s look at each piece separately and start off with the piece I believe is the most important: “forgive and ye shall be forgiven.”
There are different types of forgiveness. There is the forgiveness that you received from God when you repented your sins and accepted Christ as your savior, there is the forgiveness you give yourself when you have done wrong, there is the forgiveness that you receive from a person when you have done them wrong and there is the forgiveness you give to a person when they have wronged you.
But there is also unforgiveness. What a word, huh? It sounds like a hateful word doesn’t it? Unforgiveness… it gives me the heebees to just say the word. Unforgiveness is the unwillingness to forgive. It is when you don’t make any allowance for error or weakness.
We, as Christians are taught to forgive, yet so many of us practice unforgiveness to some extent, whether it is with ourselves or with others or even with God. But what they don’t know is there is a consequence for not forgiving someone.
In Matthew 18:21-34. Jesus is explaining to Peter about forgiving people. Jesus tells a story of a man who owed the king ten thousand talents. The king was going to have the man and his family sold to pay the debt, but the man begged the king to have patience and promised to pay everything back. The king took mercy on him and forgave his debt. But then the man came across a fellow servant who owed him a hundred denarii. The servant begged the man to be patient and that he would pay everything back. But the man had the servant thrown into prison until his debt was repaid instead of relieving his debt. When the king heard about this he was angered and had the man thrown in prison to be tortured until his debt was repaid.
At the end of this parable, Jesus says something very very important that most Christians probably don’t truly understand.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matt 18:35
If you don’t forgive others, God is not going to forgive you. When I first read this, I thought maybe I didn’t understand. I had always been taught that Christ died for our sins. And Yes he did. And every sin from the beginning of your life to the moment you accepted Christ as your savior was forgiven. BUT from that moment on you have a responsibility to follow Gods word and God says you are to forgive others as God forgives you.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
The unforgiveness of yourself is to continually look back on your past and condemn yourself for the sins you committed or to have the desire to go back to the worldy ways. When Paul was in prison he wrote a letter to friends in Philippi. One of the things he stressed was that you should not look backward, but you should look forward and persevere. You should keep your eyes on the prize, which is eternal life.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:12-14
And what about when you have wronged someone and you pour your heart out to them and beg forgiveness and they don’t forgive you? Well for starters you should forgive them for being prideful. Just as you would be prideful for not forgiving them, they are prideful for not forgiving you. To not forgive someone would be to consider yourself better than them.
And Remember what Jesus said, God will treat you as you treat other people. So return love to them and forgive them, then forget it because they will be the one to have to answer to God about their actions, just as you will have to answer for yours.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38
God gave me this verse when I taught on Tithing. At that time he said “Hold it close for it covers many areas I call you to be obedient.” It means if you follow your feelings when giving to someone, then God will follow his feelings when he gives to you. But what you give in obedience, God will return in abundance. The measure that you use is what you do in love in obedience. So God will judge you based on your actions towards others as well as actions towards Him. So if you don’t forgive someone, what do you think God will do for you?
When I asked someone about unforgiveness they referred me to the word of Jesus.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
I just love quoting Jesus! There is something powerful in the words of Jesus. Jesus said this at the sermon on the mount. And boy these are powerful words. It clearly says, if you don’t forgive others, then God will not forgive you.
Knowing this, let’s look at condemnation. If you don’t ask God for forgiveness you putting yourself above God. If you don’t forgive someone then you are not only putting yourself above that person, but again, you are putting yourself above God. In both these cases you are condemning yourself.
In the Hebrew dictionary condemn is Katadikazo (kat-ad-ik-ad’-zo) which means to adjudge against or pronounce guilty.
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. John 12:48
You are condemning yourself because you are rejecting the word he spoke. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive you”. (Matthew 6:14-15).You are in effect unsaving yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people who think they are going to heaven, but they don’t practice forgiveness. Boy are they going to be surprised when they stand in judgment and are asked “I forgave Johnny, why didn’t you?” Let me tell you I have been and will be forgiving people left and right. I do not want to be condemned. I want to be forgiven.
And that brings us to judgment. If you look at the Hebrew dictionary, judgment is Krino (kree’-no) which means to distinguish, or decide; to try, to condemn, punish.
When you don’t forgive someone you are judging them. And only God has that right, not man. In Romans Paul is addressing the Church in Corinth. And these words speak it all.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Rom 2:1-4
You, a mere man can not judge a person, because you do not know a man’s heart, only God can do that. God judges people based on truth, people will judge based on appearance. We also are imperfect so we are susceptible to discrimination and gossip, God is perfect and is not susceptible to discrimination or gossip. We are allowed to discern right from wrong, and to teach the person what is right and wrong, but we are not to judge that person.
In John 8:1-11 Jesus is at the Mount of Olives and the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery and said to Jesus that according to the Law Moses was given that they were to stone her. Jesus started to write something in the ground with his finger, then he stood up and said “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. He went back to writing on the ground while all the people left until it was only the woman and Jesus. He asked the woman if anyone had condemned her and she said no. Jesus said “Then neither do I condemn you, Go now and leave your life of sin.”
There is only one who is worthy of judgement and condemnation and that is NOT any man. We are imperfect and corruptible.
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:12
I will make certain to forgive everyone that does wrong to me, even if they don’t ask for it, because I want to be forgiven, I don’t want to be condemned and I don’t want to be judged too harshley. My motto will be as Paul said.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (KJV)