Speech delivered by Rev. Justice Elizabeth Osinuga FCArb, MICMC, FICArb (UK), during Women’s Fellowship Session; On Saturday, 1st August 2020 at the Nigerian Methodist Chaplaincy’s 6ThAGM/Conference

Courtesies: Today, I am here NOT to preach but simply to speak on the issue of forgiveness and unforgiveness. I will be looking at unforgiveness particularly from the perspective of Cancer and how the two are alike.

The title of my speech is:  “Forgiveness Is Possible”

What is cancer?

What is forgiveness?

What is unforgiveness?

A Medical author by name, William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, gave the Medical Definition of Cancer as follows:

“An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, spreads”

National Cancer Institute Dictionary of Cancers refers to cancer as:

A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues…”

Forgiveness means to:

  1. To stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.
  2. No longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake).
  3. To cancel (a debt)

Unforgiveness on the other hand means: Unwillingness to forgive, or unable to forgive someone for hurting, betraying, breaking your trust or causing you intense emotional pain.”

If we relate the definition of cancer to unforgiveness, it can be said to be a kind of disease that once develops, it continues to spread through the every area of the Spiritual life of a man. While cancer is a disease of the body, unforgiveness is a disease of the Soul; and if not stopped, it will keep eating up the Soul of man until it perishes in hell.

The Red light of unforgiveness is also indicated in the research conducted by Kate Megase MBACP; accredited registered Psychotherapist & Clinical Supervisor; titled “Unforgiveness and your health”, Published on 29th December, 2017, by Counselling Directory. It reveals that “61% of Cancer Patients are those that have issues with forgiveness.

Having said that, there can be no doubt that unforgiveness is a disease that every Christian must run away from, just like everyone today runs away from COVID 19 to the extent that if anyone coughs or sneezes around you in a public place, there is an expression of “what is that” written on the faces of everyone around. A typical example happened when my three year old grand-daughter went shopping with her parents a few says back. Suddenly someone coughed around the shelf or aisles,  and the little girl she shouted “who is that?”.

What I am saying is that Christians should start to treat unforgiveness just as we are treating the COVID; so that if in your presence a fellow Christian says I cannot forgive, an alarm should immediately ring in your system, to begin to intercede for that Christian in prayer.

The reason is that when a believer that says: “No! I can’t forgive what he/she has done to me.” The believer has simply said that he or she would rather die with their Cancer. Such would be an unfortunate tragedy.

Unforgiveness is so bad and foolish that someone described it as one drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die

Another person also says that: “Unforgiveness means you choose to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime.”

The scripture also says: “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.” (Matthew 6:15 GNB)

The Word of God proves that truly unforgiveness is nothing but the foolishness of taking poison and waiting for another person to die.

We all are sinners from the time of Adam and Eve. We were born in sin, and we deserve punishment – But, in ROMANS 3:24 God’s Word reveals that we became justified freely by His Grace through the redemptive work of Christ.

By Mercy, your sin and my sins are forgiven by God. Therefore, if this Word has any meaning to you and I as believers, the easiest thing for us to do would be to forgive; for three reasons:

  1. God blots out our transgressions, for His own sake, and He remembers our sins no moreIsaiah 43:25
  2. God throws our own sins to the sea of forgetfulnessMicah 7:19
  3.  God no longer counts our sin against us by reason of the Blood of Jesus Romans 4:8

But if your attitude is not to forgive, the consequence or implication is that the Word of God given through Prophets Isaiah and Micah and Apostle Paul have been rejected by you. But since God is with us, we cannot afford to reject His Word.

Jesus reveals to us in His parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-34. We all know the story. The unforgiving servant was thrown in jail to remain there until he can pay his debt. Jesus concluded by saying in verse 35 that:

“…my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

This will not be our portion in Jesus name.

What are the reagents of the cancer of unforgiveness?

They are strife, hatred, anger & Bitterness; and all these are parts of the works of the flesh (See Galatians 5:19-21). But when God is with us, we cannot operate in flesh because if you do, it will lead to three R’s that are destructive. These are:

  • Revenge
  • Resentment (Bitterness)
  • Remembering

None of these three should be in our lives since God is with us; because the three means hardening of heart against God, and we that have God with us cannot harden our hearts against Him, because:

(1) REVENGE you insist on taking a revenge; but God says; It is mine to avenge; I will repay…” Deuteronomy 32:35

Apostle Paul also reminded the Christians in Rome of same in Romans 12:19

When God is with you, you cannot take revenge otherwise, you will be operating against the Word of God to His face.

Jesus says if you love me you will obey my commandment (John 14:15) – Therefore your obedience is the simplest proof of your love for God. Your love for God precedes your obedience. It your love that gives rise to your obeying His commandments. God is with Us, let us show Him through obedience that we love Him.

(2) Resentment – This means you will keep your anger; while God says:

  • “…I have sworn that I will not be angry with you anymore.” (Isaiah 54:9)
  • “…For My anger has turned away from them” – Hosea 14:4
  • God will He keep His anger forever.” (Psalm 103:9)

God is with us, therefore obey Him; drop the resentment so that His Word will be real in your own life as he also will keep His Word not to remember your faults and mistakes any more.

You are a child of God, hence God is with you. But when you fail to obey Him then you need to ask yourself the question who is your father?  – The Yoruba speaking people of the South West of Nigeria, have the saying that “Eni Bini L’aajo” – (i.e. A child resembles the person that begat him/her). Therefore resemble your father and get rid of the resentment

  • Remembering – This means “I will never forget – I have heard many believers say: I can forgive, but I can never forget. Brethren, this is a dangerous game. The writer of the Book of Hebrews  wrote: “…I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:2 KJV).

This is a promise of God, and we need to appropriate and enjoy it, by extending same to your brother or sister that offends you.

Remembering is also a poison because in Numbers 14:28 God says that He  will do to us the very thing I hears us say. May He hear us speak positive things in accordance with His Word

Sisters, when you say, “I can forgive but I cannot forget, you can best imagine what God hears you say He should do to you.

Another thing is that when you forgive but you keep remembering, you are in partial obedience to His Word. We all know what partial obedience did to King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:1-35)

God is with Us as the Theme of the conference goes, as such as we cannot afford not to obey Him. You can imagine you being with your children and right to your face, they flagrantly disobey your instructions; and thereafter they turn around to ask you for favour. I leave you to conclude the result of their request.  

Also, I Corinthians. 13:5 says love keeps no record of sin.

God is with us, and God is love, therefore there should be no room for   operating in disobedience. Jesus obeyed God and offered Himself as God’s sacrifice for your sin, the best you can do for God is to obey Him and forget the offence of your brother/sister and also forget.

What about unforgiveness between Couples? This is the worst thing that any spouse can do to himself/herself for the reason that in the presence of God there are no two people but one. For He says “The two shall be One”. So if you fail to forgive your spouse, you have by implication removed God’s forgiveness from your life. This can even affect your children See Deuteronomy 28:15 & 61. As the theme goes, God is with us we must forgive one another, because the One with us is Love.

Other reasons that you must forgive and forget?

  • So that you do not fall short of God’s Grace and leave opening for Satan to cause you trouble  – See Hebrews 12:14-15 which say:

“…see to it  that you do not fall short of the Grace of God… that no

bitter root rises up to cause trouble; and get you defiled.”

  • So that you can also enjoy God’s forgiveness – Luke 6:37, Jesus says “Forgive and you will be forgiven”

God God’s kindness to humanity is Jesus Christ. His word says we should also be kind to our fellow brethren and not only forgive but also stop bringing it up– See Ephesians 4:32

  • The third reason is for you to appropriate Divine Health – which is greater that Divine healing. It is therefore healthy to forgive.

The word makes us to know that disobedience is sin. His Word also reveals that sickness can be a consequence of sin. See Deuteronomy 28:15 & 61; and the story of the man at Bethesda that had infirmity for 38 years – John 5:1-14. In verse 14, Jesus told him not to stop sinning so that worse things may not happen to him.

A Medical and psychological research also shows that People who forgive benefit from:

  1. Better immune system and lower blood pressure.
  2. Better mental health than people who do not forgive.
  3. They Feel better physically.
  4. They have lower amounts of anger and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  5. They maintain more satisfying and long-lasting relationships.

Your resentment can lead to your blood pressure rising and the impairment of your health.

           (4) Jesus forgave on the cross of calvary – Luke 23:34.

Jesus pleaded with His Father to forgive His persecutors.

Stephen was a man like you and I, but he also pleaded with God to forgive his persecutors. See – Act 7:60

In conclusion, the fact is that Forgiving by ourselves is impossible, but the truth of the Good news is that God is with us, and “…with God, Nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37)

Nothing is impossible with Him. He will empower you to forgive and also repay and recompense you.

Brethren, no offence is worth taking the poison of unforgiveness for. Therefore, since God is with us, Forgiveness is possible!

I thank you all for your rapt attention.

Rev. Justice Elizabeth Osinuga FCArb, MICMC, FICArb (UK)