We have all been hurt by the actions or words of others. Depending on the degree and circumstance of the offenses we can easily become angry, bitter and resentful. Forgiving our offender can be challenging and seemingly impossible. Yet as Christians, we are called to forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.
And how exactly did God forgive you and me? God sent His Son as a sacrifice on the cross to take the penalty of our sins away through faith in Jesus Christ. We in no way deserve this wonderful grace from God that forgives us our sins. When God forgives our sins, He does not hold our sins against us, but washes us as white as snow and makes us pure. Yet we hold grudges against others who have wronged us even after we have ‘forgiven them.’ Forgiveness is more than just saying the words, “I forgive you.” It is the desire to purge all resentment, bitterness, hate and revengeful thoughts against the person who has offended us.
Forgiveness does not deny the person’s wrongdoing or justify their actions against us. As C.S. Lewis has said, “Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness.” We must realize that God is the one who has forgiven us of all our inexcusable acts against Him, the sum of which would far outweigh the wrong that others have done to us.
In view of this, we should turn around and forgive those who have hurt us. As we do this we will feel relief from the pain and bitterness which have been inside of us, and we will be acting more like our God.
Why is forgiving others so hard? Because true forgiveness, one that purges all resentment and bitterness, is impossible without God.
As a final thought, we are commanded to forgive all offenses all the time, even those done to us by our enemies and those who might never ask for forgiveness. Scripture never says, “Forgive others as long as they have asked for forgiveness and show repentant hearts.” But Jesus did say, “Forgive men when they sin against you and love your enemies and do good to them.”