While some Christians may find it difficult to forgive the offenses of others, unforgiving spirits can cut believers off from God, says world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham.
In his syndicated advice column published Tuesday in The Kansas City Star, Graham said that Christians should be forgiving of others just as Christ forgave mankind, and did not cut them off for their sins, but laid down His life for their redemption.
An unforgiving spirit can cut a believer off from God. The evangelist reminded readers, "Now He (God) calls us to forgive others just as He has forgiven us — freely and fully."
Graham acknowledged that forgiveness can be a difficult process and that retaliation is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction.
"It's hard to forgive someone who has hurt us; our natural reaction is to strike back and hurt them in return," he said. Doing so, however, only worsens the problem and any hope for reconciliation may be lost.
The evangelist added that trying to even the score is not wise, and that God will exact justice. The Bible warns against revenge in Romans 12:19, 21: "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath. ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
The evangelist said that Christians should forgive others even if they refuse to accept it. This can help prevent a believer from becoming bitter and angry. "Like a dangerous infection, they eat away at our minds and hearts and turn us into unpleasant people that no one likes to be around," said Graham. "The Bible says, 'See to it ... that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many'" (Hebrews 12:15).