I once heard about a treatment called forgiveness therapy, for people who have unexplained illnesses. Doctors have confirmed that unforgiveness is linked to some lifestyle diseases. It is amazing when science confirms what was written in scripture years ago. Although most scientists will not affirm scripture, we see traces of the truth in psychology and other medical disciplines. God revealed this to Daniel in the Old Testament and we see this manifesting today. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4).
God asks us to bear with one another, because we recognise that it is likely that we will offend others. We appreciate that we also have weaknesses and the capacity to make mistakes. We have to acknowledge that despite our mistakes and failures that God has forgiven us. So as God forgives us, we extend that forgiveness to others. “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
The requirement for us to receive forgiveness from God is to forgive others and God warns us that our prayers will not be heard unless we forgive. Hurting people hurt people and most people who are nasty have their own share of troubles. I suppose some people need our sympathy and insight into what is causing them to hurt. Jesus commands us to love our enemies and to also pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).
God knows that the task of forgiveness is not an easy one, which is why his advice to Peter was seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). We don’t always score great marks on the forgiveness test and it is a constant struggle to ensure that we stay in grace. We have to pray for those who persecute us, because it is the only way to ensure that we do not harbour hate. If we hate and do not forgive then we are no better than the person who did wrong to us. Bitterness, hurt and hate are contagious and the only way to keep these poisons from getting inside of us and staying free is to forgive. Make a list of the persons who have offended you, pray for them and bless them. Where possible, there are also people who we have offended and need to make restitution.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).