Why Forgiveness Is Essential To Reconstruction

Why Forgiveness Is Essential To Reconstruction September 5, 2019

Forgiveness. It’s one of the very hardest things in the world for most of us to do.

Yet, Jesus commands us to forgive others. And not only to forgive them, but to forgive them in the same way that we have been forgiven by God.

Jesus expresses it this way: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” [John 13:34; and John 15:12] 

But Paul puts a finer point on it:

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you” [Col. 3:13]

“Forgiving one another even as Christ forgave you.” [Eph. 4:32]

That’s a lot of forgiveness. In fact, it’s complete forgiveness that let’s go and forgets, as if the wrong doing never even took place. [Isn’t that the way Jesus has loved and forgiven us?]

But that’s not all that Jesus has to say about the topic. I hope you’re sitting down for this.

Jesus actually says that if we don’t forgive others, then we will not be forgiven either.

Yes. He really does. Right here:

“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.” – JESUS (Matthew 6:14-15)

Whoa Nelly. Is Jesus suggesting that his forgiveness to us is conditional? I’ve never once heard a single sermon on such a thing in my entire life. How can that be?

Perhaps Jesus is forgetting that “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”(1 John 1:9)

And what about the fact that the Psalms tell us that “as far as the east is from the west, this is how far he has removed our sins from us”?(Ps 103:12)

What’s Jesus talking about here? How can he say that we can’t be forgiven of our sins unless we first forgive others of their sins against us?

The reason is very simple: Unforgiveness is a sin.

So, if we hold a grudge against someone, that in itself is a sin. If we refuse to repent of our sin, and if we do not stop practicing this sin of unforgiveness, we cannot be forgiven of it.

In order to receive forgiveness, we have to honestly confess our sins to God and we need to repent of these actions which hurt our relationship with God – and also hurts us as well.

Let’s be frank: Unforgiveness is an emotional cancer. It rots in our chest. It haunts our dreams. It keeps us chained to the source of our pain. It keeps picking at the scab so that the wound may never heal.

Don’t just take my word for it. According to the American Psychological Association, unforgiveness is killing us:

“In one meta-analysis, for example, Yoichi Chida, MD, PhD, found that anger and hostility are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, and poorer outcomes for people with existing heart disease (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2009).

“Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, as well as with fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates. In fact, researchers have amassed enough evidence of the benefits of forgiveness to fill a book – “Forgiveness and Health” –  that detailed the physical and psychological benefits.

“[In the book, authors], Toussaint and Worthington suggest that stress relief is probably the chief factor connecting forgiveness and well-being. “We know chronic stress is bad for our health,” Toussaint says. “Forgiveness allows you to let go of the chronic interpersonal stressors that cause us undue burden.”

“While stress relief is important, Enright believes there are other important mechanisms by which forgiveness works its magic. One of those, he suggests, is “toxic” anger. “There’s nothing wrong with healthy anger, but when anger is very deep and long lasting, it can do a number on us systemically,” he says. “When you get rid of anger, your muscles relax, you’re less anxious, you have more energy, your immune system can strengthen.”

So, maybe Jesus was on to something? Maybe forgiveness is essential to our own health, and happiness? That means, as hard, or even as impossible, as forgiveness can sometimes be, we have to learn to forgive anyway.

Our own lives may depend upon it.

Now, I know that it’s not easy. But, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, it’s something that most of us find easy to do, depending on the person who needs forgiveness:

“There is someone that I love even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.” – C.S. Lewis

See, this is why Jesus also commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Because we give ourselves permission to do horrible things and still consider ourselves worthy of forgiveness and mercy. That means we need to love others enough to consider that they, also, are worthy of being loved and forgiven and shown mercy.

Now, the truth is, forgiveness really has nothing to do with anyone being “worthy” of it. In fact, Jesus never met anyone he didn’t consider unworthy of forgiveness. He just forgave. Everyone. All the time. Usually without even being asked. He just immediately and without reservation said, “Your sins are forgiven you.”

Yes, Jesus wants us to understand something: Our forgiveness is connected to how we forgive of others.

If we are quick to forgive, then we also live as people who are forgiven – free from all condemnation and guilt.

But, if we hold on to condemnation, if we refuse to release guilt, then it remains with us, and we become infected with it. It begins to define us. It starts to fester within.

So, let’s repent of our unforgiveness. Let’s extend the same grace and mercy and love to others that we want so much to enjoy for ourselves.

Remember: forgiving others unlocks you from the prison of bitterness. It sets you free from the bondage of pain. And, it also sets you free to receive your own sweet forgiveness and begin your own process of inner healing.

Until we forgive, we are not forgiven. Until we forgive, we cannot move on and experience healing, and freedom and the joy of Reconstruction.

So…are you ready to forgive?

**

NOTE: If you need help walking through the process, I’m happy to do so. Starting Monday, Sept. 30, I’ll be leading a 90-Day Online Coaching Program called “Square 1” that will take us from Deconstruction to Reconstruction, and this work of forgiveness is a very big part of that.

Learn more at Square 1.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

Keith’s newest book, “Jesus Unveiled: Forsaking Church As We Know It For Ekklesia As God Intended” released on June 9, 2019 on Amazon, and features a Foreword by author Richard Jacobson.
Keith’s Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean. 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Herm

    So, let’s repent of our unforgiveness. Let’s extend the same grace and mercy and love to others that we want so much to enjoy for ourselves.

    Matthew 7:12 NIV
    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Thank you and amen…

  • swbarnes2

    Any discussion of Christian forgiveness is woefully incomplete without reference the GRACE report about Bob Jones University. There is a whole section about how Christian forgiveness is actually taught and expected to be practiced, and how that teaching affects those so instructed.

    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b0a335c45776ee022efd309/t/5bb72a12a4222faf0f8bd4da/1538730518938/Bob%2BJones%2BU%2BFinal%2BReport.pdf

  • CO Fines

    In my experience, the great majority of the most angry, bitter, hateful, and unforgiving Christians are post-evangelicals. This article seems to skirt around that. Is there any prayer prayed more often world-wide than the one that includes “Father, forgive us as we forgive others”? That our anger can be justified is completely irrelevant to the spiritual law at work here. To take a heavy hit and then compound it with more self-inflicted pain may be natural human behavior, but we are supposedly empowered to overcome our natural ego-driven idiocy. Doesn’t seem to be working very well for most.

  • Herm

    When, really when, do those seeking God’s eternal protection, nurture, providing, and teaching as Jesus the Christ promised was true, come to God only for teaching? Can’t you understand that any discussion subscribing to any teacher/instructor other than the Spirit of truth’s teaching and the Messiah’s instructions is woefully incomplete. Do you believe the New Testament witnessing to Christ’s instructions as complete truth applicable and available to you today? If you do, then seek, knock and ask God, trusting in their promise of unmerited support available to you for as long you are alive, for their support as the only authority worthy of complete truth. If you are a complete disciple (student) of Christ, which is possible today according to the very scripture that teachers in Bob Jones University teach as the “inerrant” word of God, then you have only one Teacher, one Instructor and one Father … the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father of God.

    Matthew 23:8-12 NIV
    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. [9] And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. [10] Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. [11] The greatest among you will be your servant. [12] For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Who insists that they must be heard as your ‘Rabbi’ for your discussion of forgiveness and grace to not be “woefully incomplete”? Woe is you, and they, and you both are grieved for.

    Luke 14:25-27 NIV
    Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: [26] “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. [27] And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Perhaps, you simply do not hate the divisive traditions of allegiance to family (blood, church, race, species, nation, etc.) over that of uniting with and in God’s love for all of Man. Do you still trust that you were saved on the cross, as taught by Bob Jones University, or have you picked up your own cross, the will of Jesus’ Father, hoping to save others who are presently lost in allegiance to families of Man?

    John 14:15-21 NIV
    “If you love me, keep my commands. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— [17] the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [18] I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. [19] Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. [20] On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. [21] Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    John 16:12-15 NIV
    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. [13] But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. [14] He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. [15] All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    Who is guiding you into all truth today? Do you feel like Jesus has left you orphaned?

    As Jesus was witnessed to have witnessed to in your scripture, I can only witness, by my relationship with and in God, that all scripture I have shared with you is true. There can be no relationship with God, as a whole, except with and in the Spirit, including all worship.

    John 4:23-24 NIV
    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. [24] God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

  • Herm

    What then is the justification, relative to the spiritual law, for my brother’s anger?

    Mark 3:5 NIV
    He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

    What in the realm of spirit consequences sums up the law, and all that the law hangs on, that denies forgiving as the first step toward healing from wounds inflicted by those who did not do first, in everything, to others as they would have had others do to them?

    The prayer you quote was never to be voiced rote by memory. It came from Jesus teaching children of God a form of addressing and sharing directly with their Father (who is spirit having no mouth to speak from, ears to hear with, or paper to write on). The “Lord’s Prayer” was never taught to be ritualistically prayed as sacred. Should a child of God seek forgiveness it will be found living with and in the Spirit of truth. God has no name, neither Jesus, the Father, or the Holy Spirit, but to those living with and in the Spirit of truth they are known for certain in each and each in them.

    For your edification, look back on the recent past articles from Keith and you will see that this article represents a first step only. One step cannot, in and of itself, skirt around what you perceive as the only reason for reconstruction.

  • CO Fines

    Your tone and attitude is easily grasped– supercilious, condescending, and self-righteous. The sense of what you say, not so easy, except to recognize it as pious gobbledygook. Perhaps if you spoke in plain English, we could both learn something. What we call the Lord’s Prayer may or may not have been meant to become ritual, but it is certainly recited more day by day than any other prayer, and certainly not without effect. In the version given by Matthew, Jesus immediately comments on it emphasizing that if we forgive, we are forgiven. If we don’t forgive, we aren’t forgiven, which is what Keith is saying here. I am trying to get Keith to plainly acknowledge the main reason needed for his reconstruction, the ongoing self-harm suffered by those harboring bitterness toward negative church experience, which I nowhere say is the only reason for reconstruction. I’m on Keith’s side. This spiritual law is generally not taught in churches in my experience and Keith is doing a great service by bringing it up. It is central to spiritual healing. Twelve years is long enough. Quit dawdling. Get to the point.

  • Herm

    “In my experience, the great majority of the most angry, bitter, hateful, and unforgiving Christians are post-evangelicals. This article seems to skirt around that.”

    I am sorry for reading that as supercilious, condescending, and self-righteous, when you say that was not your intent, forgive me.

    Please, in plain English, tell us what is the main reason that necessitates the reconstruction that he offers others support with based on his twelve years of reconstruction supported by Wendy and God.

    According to New Testament Christian canonized scripture, any carnal worship outside of in the Spirit only, requires reconstruction beginning with hating the traditions of family. It appears that all Christian churches on earth are not constructed on the rock.

    The relational and spiritual law that sums up my chosen influential efforts, with Man and God, is in everything I choose do to all others first as I would have all others do to me. This was summed up, relative to the first step necessary to begin reconstruction, when Keith wrote, “So, let’s repent of our unforgiveness. Let’s extend the same grace and mercy and love to others that we want so much to enjoy for ourselves.“. It is, also, summed up in loving my merciful neighbor as myself.

    If you feel it is necessary for you to get Keith to plainly acknowledge your impression as to the main reason needed for his reconstruction then fine, but I guess I am too dense to see what forgiveness of self and of offenders for each Keith is reaching out to has to do with his coming out true to himself and others necessitates a catharsis. Anyone who has followed Keith, for more than a month, knows why he is no longer a licensed and ordained minister under the umbrella of authority of an evangelical corporate church. He knows what he deconstructed from.

    Thank you for trying to help me understand. I will consider your words and intent as I would have you consider mine. Love you!

  • CO Fines

    In the attempt to get people to first understand, and then practice, the spiritual law of forgiveness, it seems to me that in meeting most people where they are at, self-interest is probably a more practical place to start than scriptural platitudes and pious abstractions and legal requirements from a demanding God. Spiritual laws aren’t about obedience, they are about choices and their automatic consequences. If you go against the physical law of gravity by jumping out a third floor window, you aren’t being punished. If you go against the spiritual law of forgiveness, any “punishment” is automatic and self-inflicted. Until people realize that by harboring bitterness against those who may have harmed them, whether intentionally or not, they are only hurting themselves, we can discuss spiritual laws until Jesus comes and still stay stuck in a pit of our own digging. Is your head hurting? For a start, why not stop hitting yourself in the head with that big hammer?

    The so called Golden Rule is related to this but does not get down to the nitty-gritty of the simplicity in the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive us as we forgive others. Plain and simple, so very hard to do. I don’t know where you come up with a requirement for hating the traditions of family in all this, unless you are talking about Jesus speaking in exaggeration of “hating” anything outside of following him. Certainly Jesus honored his mother and traditional family, but that is beside the point of this article.

    People caught in the pit of their own bitterness need first of all to be made aware that they are in a pit of their own making, usually not self-evident. This is not about someone else at fault, it is about you at fault. Then they need to be taught how to get out of the pit in practical and efficient ways. I would suggest that saying to someone in that situation, let us repent of our unforgiveness, let us extend the same grace and mercy and love to others that we want so much to enjoy for ourselves, is so much spiritual blather and completely ineffectual as to making any difference for change. If you are caught in a pit, first stop digging. My sense is there isn’t a lot of time left for folks to wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Herm

    Which is it, Jesus the Christ is real or not? I do agree that the law, spoken of by Jesus, is natural in spirit and carnal governing all relationships.

    As is written, and ignored by this world’s “Christian” church “Rabbis”, Jesus never left his sibling students orphaned. There are none of his who worship in the carnal, by any name, only in the Spirit.

    We may not find a meeting of our minds and hearts. The way you speak with some assumed authority makes it clear that you don’t know Jesus in you and you in Jesus. You are blind to the Spirit of truth in your midst. He is not living with and in you forever, without pause, guiding you into all truth. He is just another scriptural platitude to you who is waiting for Jesus to come again. He is here, with no disruptions to his exercise of all authority in heaven and on earth.

    If you insist on using some words witnessed to as from the Messiah but trivialize others as platitudes then we have nothing in common to help each other. I have one Teacher only, I have one Instructor only, I have one Father only as a child of God, an infant sibling of Jesus in the Spirit of truth, just as was written it could be for those who hated allegiance to familial traditions dividing mankind into tribes (does not keep a child from honoring their carnal parents that they may live long in the land) and picked up their own cross for all others of carnal Man. I remain, as Jesus remains, a child of Man in the carnal and a child born of God in the Spirit.

    If you wish to know where all that I just shared is true and written in the Christian Bible then we have more to share. If you are certain that I am only digging my pit to deconstruction then we need go no further. By my tried and tested experience I know you do not “sense” that the Spirit of truth is real, that Jesus is real, that the Father of God is real, and that children of God subject only to the will of their Father are real today, right now. Is this true to what you believe?

  • Jon Laan

    “Whoa Nelly” I heard Charles Stanley, of Southern Baptist fame, say about 25 years ago, that we were forgiven of our FUTURE sins. That blew me away -with no conditions! I have heard other Baptist preachers preach this and it boggles my mind. However, a few days ago, I heard a great sermon by Adrian Rogers, (also former head of SBC, as was Stanley), preach a tremendous sermon on the conditions of forgiveness. Sorry, Mr Giles, you did not hear Rogers’ sermon and you may not be the first to newly discover this principle – the vast implications of unforgiveness. It is actually in the Bible and many others have discovered it before you. But thanks for rediscovering it.