1. Spiritual Clarity – Show me someone who claims to be close to Jesus, and by asking one simple question I can tell if it is true or not. Here is that question: “Is there anyone you need to forgive?” If the answer is “yes” there is a spiritual block. We see over and over in the New Testament Jesus telling the disciples of his grace. When asked how many times one should forgive, Jesus blew the disciples minds and answered, seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:22) This basically means you can’t stop forgiving. Once you stop forgiving, stick a fork in your spiritual growth. If you are willing to forgive, God will immediately excel your growth. If you want to be on the fast track of God’s plan for your life, learn to forgive.
2. Deeper Intimacy – Whenever conflict comes, intimacy comes when we forgive. I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive anyone including your spouse, your closeness will always suffer. If you find yourself becoming jaded towards someone, it’s time forgive and draw close to them again. With family and friends people want to love and be loved. Especially with marriage people don’t get married to be hurt, but two sinners in a relationship will always hurt each other. Forgiveness is not an option, but a mandate from scripture.
3. Eliminate Bitterness – Where there is authentic forgiveness, bitterness cannot take root. I have counseled countless couples that just can’t forgive. No matter what the offense, it seems the more you choose to withhold forgiveness, the deeper the bitterness penetrates. Since we are holistic beings, a failure to learn to forgive will affect EVERY area of your life. Not forgiving your spouse will affect your work, your leisure and worst of all your children. Kids are perceptive and much smarter than you think. Even my ten-year-old daughter can perceive when mommy and daddy are not being nice to each other, even when we think we are hiding it.
4. A Worthy Example – Have you ever considered how many people are watching you? I’m not trying to stress you out or build the pressure, but if you claim to follow Jesus, your friends are watching to see if there is any substance to your faith. If your religion is a punch line and a Sunday experience, you are harming the testimony of Jesus. If there is no difference between you and your co-workers, you need to take a step back. One of the most harmful things you can do at work is complain constantly. Once you unleash the tongue to tear down people to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith. When you forgive, people around you benefit exponentially.
5. A Clear Conscience – Simply put, there is not much more satisfying than a clear conscience. To know even though you did something wrong you asked forgiveness, that is pure peace. To know despite the hurt inflicted upon you, you forgave, IS PRICELESS! When you forgive others it allows you to move forward with passion and integrity. This means you have to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! When someone says to you, “I forgave”, then they can’t stop talking about it, they didn’t forgive. They are medicating with gossip. If someone isn’t part of the problem or solution, leave them out of it. Forgiving makes you a person of integrity and will kill your pride.
Josh Conn is a 20 year ministry veteran, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ. 217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ. Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.