One of the most important concepts affecting spiritual growth is forgiveness. The act of forgiving another human being has eternal relevance. While the act is done in the “here-and-now”, forgiveness has a great deal to do with your relationship with God today and beyond.
The importance of forgiveness
The Apostle Paul teaches this concerning forgiveness, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 NIV) Paul reminds each Christ-follower that forgiveness matters to God. Christ-followers are urged to remember how much God has forgiven them and practice that same forgiveness toward others.
What happens when there is unforgiveness in the heart? Many people believe that harboring unforgiveness is OK and that somehow God will just understand. This, however, is far from the truth. The results of unforgiveness can be devastating:
1. Unforgiveness places a barrier between you and God
2. Unforgiveness shifts your focus away from God and onto something else
3. Unforgiveness destroys joy
4. Unforgiveness affects you physically
Forgiveness may not always be easy
Some pain is very deep and difficult to forget. Sometimes the pain is so severe that you think you will never forget. Consider for a moment how Jesus Christ felt while on the cross. Consider the pain of dying for the sins of the world. Consider Jesus dying for your sin. Imagine how He felt. This is why the words of Paul are so important, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” You have been forgiven and God expects you to practice that same forgiveness.
This does not minimize the pain you have experienced. Paul’s words simply remind each Christ-follower that Jesus suffered more than anyone when He paid the price for our transgressions.
Spiritual growth is at stake
The essence of spiritual growth really begins with practicing forgiveness no matter how difficult it may seem. By doing this, you will find healing for your heart and the return of joy to your life.