God forgives us. Now, He asks us to forgive others.
But you don’t know what they’ve done!”
Acted foolishly? Lashed out because they are in pain? Stubbornly chosen their own way?
Haven’t I done the same?
God reveals to us what we have done that needs repentance and forgiveness, and lavishes love and grace on us. Then He asks us to do the same for others.
Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:8
When God reminds us of the details of what someone has done to hurt us, He’s helping us deal with each issue, forgive it and let it go. Remember that last week we talked about how our lack of forgiveness hurts us more than the other person. God doesn’t want us to suffer in anger, resentment and bitterness.
At first, I felt guilty for reflecting on things done to me, but then I realized I could only forgive as I saw the full truth of what I was forgiving. Contrary to what many of us think, forgiveness begins when we can honestly acknowledge the hurt we’ve experienced.
Let’s say my sister used my car without permission and wrecked it.
(Just an example, I don’t have a sister.) If I don’t acknowledge the facts of the circumstances, how can I forgive my sister? If I deny it: “My sister didn’t do anything wrong;” or minimize it: “Well, after all, she’s my sister so isn’t it okay for her to take my car?” or ignore it, then I’m not forgiving her action or the fact it has hurt me.
Doesn’t granting forgiveness means I condone hurtful behavior?
I’ve wondered this, and also if forgiveness requires me to return to a painful situation. But I learned that forgiving doesn’t mean I must disregard or tolerate someone hurting me. It doesn’t necessitate continuing to live in a deceptive, dangerous or abusive relationship. Forgiving someone simply releases that person into God’s hands to handle it. When I was able to forgive, I could let go, and not go back.
Sometimes, a person’s lack of remorse can trip us up.
I’ve struggled with forgiving someone when I sensed they were more concerned for their own suffering as a result of being caught than because of pain they caused. But forgiving is to free me. So I’ve asked God to help me let go even if the other person refused to apologize, excused their actions or didn’t seem sincere.
Sometimes, I wasn’t willing to forgive because I was holding onto pain as proof that I deserved justice. I felt like giving up the pain was giving up my chance to make things right. But God is the one who brings justice. He is the one who will hold the person accountable for their behavior. It may be now or later, but He will call them to account. When we let Him deal with the situation, we are free.
Forgiveness really comes back to trusting God. When we believe He has everything covered it’s easier to be gracious towards others.What has kept you from forgiving someone?