Why does forgiveness matter? We have all been hurt and betrayed by someone. You can’t make it through life on planet Earth without a few scars.
But what do you do with that pain? In my experience you can live there and become bitter or you can use it as a life lesson and forgive. Real freedom comes when you choose to forgive even when someone doesn’t even say they are sorry.
Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was right. Forgiveness means that you trust God to deal with them.
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Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:9-21 NKJV
I was watching Longmire reruns when I heard this line, “Forgiveness is not a natural thing for most people.” That is true. When we get rejected or laughed at or betrayed it is not the first thought that comes to mind.
We are human after all. The first thought is more like:
- I’m gonna get you for that
- I will never forgive you
- It’s over
- I will never trust you ever again
- I can’t wait to get my revenge
No wonder Jesus had so much to say about forgiveness.
Have you ever met someone who refuses to forgive someone? They are angry, they are bitter, and they are stuck. You know, they repeat the same old story about how somebody wronged them every time you see them. They refuse to let it go. They gossip, they cut others down, and they stir up drama – all to get the focus off themselves. They blame everybody for everything. It’s sad really. You know they are miserable.
I have known people who harden their hearts and develop a root of bitterness. Roots grow deep. Once this happens they lose their joy and hope. You can’t tell them anything because they don’t want to hear it. They poison the lives of those they touch. They bring strife, division, and even hatred.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; – Hebrews 12:14-15 NKJV
So what should we do?
- Repent of any unforgiveness in our hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind those we have not yet forgiven.
- Forgive them and forgive yourself for holding on to it.
- Pray for the person you had a resentment against. Yes, pray for them. Ask God to bless them. Then you will be free of it.
- Trust God to deal with it. “Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.” Let God take care of it. Trust Him to make it right.
What they did may be wrong. But so you really want to be stuck there forever? Do you really want to be tied to that wrong forever? God can’t deal with them or make it right until you let it go.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15