Originally Published: 2-22-2017
Forgiveness can be very hard. We feel deeply the injustices perpetrated against us. These feelings drive us to hang on to the injustice rather than to forgive the offender. The results of not forgiving are grudges, bitterness, hatred, a miserable attitude and a lack of joy. This affects our relationships not only with the one we haven’t forgiven, but with others as well. Above all that, our relationship with God is affected because of our disobedience. He calls us to forgive others but we have our excuses and we stick to them.
YEAH BUT IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!
This is one of the first complete sentences a child will utter. We are born with a sense of fairness. We don’t like it if we are commanded to forgive someone who in our opinion, doesn’t deserve it. After all we are right and they are wrong! The truth is life is not fair. This world is sin-cursed and people are born sinners. These two produce injustice. As Followers of Christ we are called to live in this world while trusting God with our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 When someone isn’t fair to us we need to trust God instead of looking to ourselves for the answers. We are to forgive.
YEAH BUT I’M MUCH TOO HURT TO EVER FORGIVE.
We nurse our hurts sometimes just like we would a baby. “It’s my hurt…don’t touch it! Don’t take it away from me!” It becomes part of our identity. But this is not truth. As Followers of Christ, our identity is in Him. We are not to be known by our hurt. When we refuse to forgive someone because it hurts, we are not remembering how we have been forgiven. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 The only way to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving is to first remember God’s forgiveness given to us in Christ. Yes, it may hurt; but to not forgive will hurt us even more. We need grace to overcome the hurt and forgive. God will give us that grace. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 We are to forgive.
YEAH BUT IF I FORGIVE HIM HE WILL THINK IT IS OKAY.
There is so much fear in this statement. We think we can hold onto control by not forgiving, and keep the fish on the hook, so to speak. We have to remember that it’s not our job to punish the offending person. Our forgiveness is to be in direct proportion to the amount we have been forgiven. As followers of Christ we have been forgiven all. Do we think sin is okay because God has forgiven us? NO! Our responsibility is to be obedient to forgive and trust God with the other person. The other person’s sin is not our fault. We are not to harbor unforgiveness because of fear. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 We are to forgive in prayer and in our hearts even before the person asks for the forgiveness. If we don’t then we are putting up a blocker in our relationship with God. The blocker is a grudge against someone resulting in bitterness. When we are bitter, the grace of God is blocked in our lives. We are to forgive.
YEAH BUT I CAN’T FORGET!
It’s unlikely we will forget a wrong done against us. We will forget something like what to pick up at the store or someone’s birthday. When we are hurt by someone it makes a deep impression on us and we remember. “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 Does this mean that God forgets our sin? Absolutely not, He is not forgetful; He refuses to call them to mind. He promises not to bring them up again. This is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:5 we read that love keeps no records of wrongs. We are not going to forget the wrongs done to us but we are going to choose to love. This means when we forgive we make a choice to not bring up the sin to the offender or to others or even to ourselves. We are to forgive.
We’re called to press on in our life with a forgiving heart. We have been forgiven every sin past, present and future by the blood of Jesus. This should make a difference in how we live. We are forgiven!