This blog has taken me almost 3 months to write. God has been teaching me about forgiveness through a personal struggle that I’ve been going through. I hope and pray that as you read this, you find freedom in forgiveness as well.
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive.
Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” – Henry Ward Beecher
“I Forgive You”… Those are not easy words for me to say.
Have you ever been trapped in a situation where you continue to harbor bitterness towards those who’ve hurt you but earnestly seek freedom from the pain.
You say you forgive, but the memory and pain still haunts you and you keep going back to it. In these past few months, God has been teaching me that forgiving even the worst offence is not impossible. It’s a challenging process, but it is not impossible. There is freedom from the past when we place those offenses at the foot of the cross and learn to forgive the way Christ forgave you.
Remember the parable of the unmerciful servant from the Bible (Matthew 18:21-25). Verse 21-22: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”.
Forgive the person who offends you Seventy-seven times? After 2 or 3 times, I’m usually done forgiving and prefer to be ignorant. (Anyone been in my shoes?) But if you think about it, when we choose Not to forgive the person who hurts us, or even “pretend” to forgive while continuing to hold a grudge in our heart; it eventually damages our relationships and the way we treat all our relationships.
For some of us, we’ve been hurt repeatedly or quite severely by someone, that the word “forgiveness” makes us look away and turn a deaf ear. Forgiveness is not easy, no doubt about that. Just by saying “I forgive you” doesn’t necessarily mean you have actually forgiven the person. Your mouth may say one thing but your heart can mean otherwise. Bitterness against the person who hurt you can fester for years. I’ve been in a place where I have acknowledged that I’ve forgiven although In reality I didn’t really want to forgive. I only said it because I did not want to feel guilty about not forgiving.
God’s forgiveness sets us free from the prison of guilt. Likewise, our forgiveness of others sets us free from the prison of our bitterness.
If you’re still not convinced, here are 2 more reasons why you should forgive:
1. God commands us to forgive.
Forgive-Just as Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4: 31-32 says “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” This verse can’t be more clear about it.
2. God loved us before we loved him and forgave us before we ever knew what it meant.
1 John 4:19-21 “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
We know how to love because God was the example of love. We know how to forgive because God forgave us first. This verse goes on to say how can we say we love a God who we cannot see when we are not able to love the person who is in front of us?
Matthew 6: 9-13 (Lord’s Prayer) was a prayer that we recited at school every morning. Pay special attention to verse 12, “Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Why is it so easy for us to ask for forgiveness, yet seems twice as hard to forgive? How can we ask God to forgive us, when we fail to do it ourselves?
Forgiveness is a choice that we make – It’s not an emotion but an act of the will. If we left forgiveness to “How we feel”, we would seldom forgive those who hurt us. It may take a while for our feelings to catch up to our will, but our will needs to respond to the scriptural mandate to forgive. When someone apologizes, we have the opportunity to practice will power. Forgiveness is the first step to restoring a relationship. But I also have to add this; forgiveness isn’t forgetting or justifying the deeds of a person. It is a whole-hearted decision to move past the hurt and the first step towards re-building trust. Sure! we should build boundaries but we MUST release ourselves and the person who hurt us from any previous debt. We cannot hold onto the past and say “I forgive you” but keep bringing up the hurt when there is a disagreement.
Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. It’s only because God first loved and forgave us that we can be in a relationship with him. It’s a lot easier to forgive others when we realize all that we have been forgiven for. It’s part of being human that we struggle and need the ones we love to extend mercy to us. Maintaining this perspective helps us imitate Christ.
When we truly forgive, we set 2 prisoners free; the person we’ve forgiven and ourselves.
“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” – Corrie Ten Boom
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you” – C.S. Lewis
This post was first published here on the author’s blog post.