Forgiving those who have harmed or wronged us is definitely not easy. Don't feel like you are the only one struggling with forgiveness. All of us have been wronged at some time or another, and if we're honest, we've wronged others too. Everybody will be faced with the question of "How can I ever forgive that person for ____________?" But the Bible is exceedingly clear on the subject of forgiveness. We are to forgive. No exceptions. Even those people who have not come to us asking for forgiveness or in no way show any signs of a repentant heart. Yes, we have to forgive them too.
I know what you're thinking. "But why? Why should I forgive ____________ for doing ____________ to me?" Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Colossians 3:13 says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Could it be any more obvious?
The next question springing to your mind is, "But you don't know what they did! If you knew, you would understand why I can't forgive them." Maybe. I would be dishonest with you if I did not admit that the story in Matthew 18:21-22 was one of the most challenging ones I have ever encountered:
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
See the point the Lord is making here? There is no limit to how often and how much you should forgive your brother or those who wrong you. I know, it's hard. Some of us aren't that patient!
You were once forgiven—forgiven of far more than anything any person could do against you. God has forgiven our sins, wiped our debt away, which we in no way could have paid on our own. And this wasn't a little slight; we have sinned against a holy and perfect God. Think of the cost God had to endure in order to remove this debt from you. He sacrificed the life of His one and only Son (John 3:16)! Then He freely granted you this forgiveness (1 John 1:9)! Put that into perspective with whatever someone has done against you. If God has forgiven so much of us, how can we refuse forgiveness to others?
"Okay, great. You've established why I have to forgive, but you haven't said how." I'm getting there! You may have even picked up on that answer earlier. We forgive by loving others more than ourselves. That is, we make other people's needs more important than our own.
Through prayer, Biblical guidance, and help of the Holy Spirit, we will find the strength to forgive. As we walk with Him, we strive to be more like Jesus, who gave His life for each of us and forgave those who sinned against Him. Forgiving others is one more way we can grow in our journey as believers.
Forgiving those who have harmed or wronged us is definitely not easy. But the Bible is clear that we are to forgive those who have sinned against us. No exceptions. Even those people who have not come to us asking for forgiveness or in no way show any signs of a repentant heart. Yes, we have to forgive them too.
Heidi Joelle is an executive assistant by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or traveling somewhere new. Her sidekick Smokey the Saint Bernard is rarely far off, usually pretending he's asleep.