At the heart of the gospel message are the words of Jesus to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” but did you know that not all sins are forgiven by God?
Consider these verses from Matthew 5:
Therefore, if you are offering your sacrifice at the altar and remember that your brother has a dispute with you, leave your sacrifice there in front of the altar and go, atone before the face of your brother, then afterward come and offer your sacrifice. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:23-26)
The Lord also tells us that if we do not forgive our brother, our Father in heaven will not forgive us. In today’s churches we failed to teach this connection because it seems to be in direct opposition to the message of grace. This is because we misunderstand what grace is supposed to be.
For the believer in Jesus Christ grace is not only what we receive but it is what we give. We fail to realize that the unmerited favor of God is conditional. Let that sink in for a moment.
It is not possible for you to be saved unless you accept God’s grace but by the same token, according to the teachings of the master, the offer of grace can apparently be revoked when we do not forgive others.
And don’t get upset with me, I am only the messenger. A careful reading of the Scripture reveals that a person who has hatred in his heart for his brother will not be accepted by God. This is clearly taught in the sayings of Jesus found on the sermon on the Mount and then passages written by the apostle John and others.
This leaves us in a difficult place because we often believe that the love of God and his grace will cover even our unforgiveness and the sins we have committed towards others.
That brings us to where the rubber meets the road, namely the most uncomfortable place I can bring you. As a believer in Jesus Christ you and I have an obligation to ask forgiveness of the people we have wronged and we have an obligation to give forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
Neither one of these acts are easy to carry out. Many of us would rather gouge out an eye or cut off a finger than have to admit that we were wrong and asked for forgiveness and by the same token there are a lot of us who would rather face death then give forgiveness.
That is probably why Jesus connected our standing before God with both asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness, because it is only when the stakes are that high that we might actually forgive.
So set yourself a deadline that you will contact that person that is coming to your mind right now. Stop what you are doing and either pick up the phone or hop in the car and ask for forgiveness or extend forgiveness and make peace with your brother because this is between you and them and not even the Lord can extend the forgiveness that either you or they can.