The Need for Forgiveness

The issue of forgiveness is all through the Bible.  If you asked people, do you think it is right to forgive those who hurt you, I imagine that most everyone will say yes (some may say it grudgingly).  Therefore, we know we should do it, but I believe that giving true forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for many of us to do.

Before we get too far into this I believe we need to define what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.  Forgiveness is not a process whereby we do some mental gymnastics and completely forget what someone has done to us.  I have heard many people say “you need to forgive and forget.”  It has been my experience in life that I as well as most people I know are more like elephants when it comes to being hurt.  We have all grown-up hearing that elephants never forget, and I believe most humans don’t either.  Forgiveness is not forgetfulness.  Rather, to forgive someone is to do two things.  First it is to release them from your debt.  You are choosing to no longer hold them guilty of hurting you.  Secondly, to forgive someone is to not hold their past of hurting you against them in the present or the future.  Now onto the rest of the issue of forgiveness now that we have defined it.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has given us a command to forgive.  Jesus in Matthew 7 also gave the command to forgive.  In helping us learn to forgive I believe there are two principles we should remember.  First, we need to forgive others because Christ has forgiven us.  That is right there in Ephesians 4:32.  The next time you or I have a hard time forgiving someone, we should remember all the things God has forgiven us for.  A good exercise that will deal with your pride and stubbornness to forgive is to next time you are struggling to forgive someone, take out a piece of paper and write down all the things that God has forgiven you for.  That should put things into perspective pretty quickly.  So remember how much God has forgiven you for.  Secondly, remember that you have most likely hurt others in the past as well.  You or I being hurt does not make us unique as though we are the only ones in the world to have been hurt or wronged by someone.  Remember growing up and hearing about the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you?”  If you want others to forgive you, then you need to forgive others who hurt you.  At the end of the day, holding on to a grudge or not forgiving someone only hurts you.  You are the one who can’t sleep, you are the one stressed out, not them.   Jesus said the two greatest commands were to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love others as yourself.  Let’s be honest, we are a whole lot easier on ourselves than we are on others.  For the sake of your relationship with God, your relationship with others, and your own personal well-being, let it go!

By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him

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