The earth is filled with well-intentioned, people whom we daily talk and interact with. Think about how many people you speak to, see and interact with on a standard day? Hundreds, maybe more, maybe less. Regardless of who or how many people you interact with daily, eventually you are going to get offended, hurt, lied to, deserted or betrayed.
People will consistently be hurt and hurt people. Hurt people tend to hurt people. We have a main choice when we are wronged by someone: that is to deal with it in a mature manner or to take the low road and be immature.
Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. More often than not, when someone gets hurt, they are the one who continually feel the pain and anguish, not the one who did the hurting. If you choose to live in un-forgiveness it will make you unhealthy in these ways. First, and foremost, it will make you spiritually sick. There are numerous Scriptures teaching on forgiveness, and they all boil down to one slap-in-the-face fact. Who are you to not forgive anyone?! And, forgive SO THAT you can be forgiven. Christ’s work on the Cross is enough and He deserves you growing up and forgiving your trespasser. Secondly, un-forgiveness can make you physically ill. What is on the inside tends to come out eventually. And holding on to things on the inside will affect your physical body. Holding on to un-forgiveness gives birth to bitterness, bitterness leads to anger and resentment. Last time I checked, neither of these are fruits of the Spirit. If our lives, as Christians, do not exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, it is time for a change.
Going back to Christ’s role in forgiveness, how can we honestly worship, seek, commune and pray to God when we are holding on to un-forgiveness? I cannot fully give myself to God while still holding on to anger. Un-forgiveness is not in His nature. What did He say on the cross when He was being crucified, shamed and killed? Father, spite these men for torturing me… No. In the midst of being beaten, ridiculed and tortured to the point of death, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Forgiveness is the most beautiful picture God can create for us because forgiveness is an invitation to wholeness and restoration. We have been given the gift of reconciliation meaning that our work is to restore relationships, lives and individuals in order to become more like Christ. Without Jesus taking all of our sins, past, present and future with Him to the grave, we would not have an opportunity of forgiveness.
I was bought at such a high price, and I cannot justify any action that does not deserve forgiveness because of what He did for me. And He did the exact same for you! And the person that tends to hurt you. If we attempt to find an action unworthy of forgiveness, are we not diminishing Christ’s work on the cross? That is something I do not want to be guilty of.
Forgiveness is about perspective. Yes, being wronged is awful and a terrible experience. But instead of holding on to the anger and bitterness, we need to deal with it, first with Christ, and then with the person who wronged us. The bigger person always has to be the one to make the first move, and usually it is the person who does not feel like they need to forgive.
Here are some basic steps to forgiveness. First, acknowledge your own sin in the process of dealing with un-forgiveness (example: slander, mockery, lies, disrespect, bad mouthing, gossip, etc.) and then seek repentance and restoration from God. “If your brother sins against you, forgive him so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you. (Mark 11:25)” It seems that if we withhold forgiveness from our brothers and sisters, God will withhold forgiveness from us.
Once you acknowledged your own sin and dealt with it with God, the next step is to confront the other party. You do not confront expecting them to ask for forgiveness, you initiate to share your feelings, explain your actions and then asked to be forgiven. This opens up the door to restoration and fullness.
No more tip-toeing around people, ignoring them and dodging these conversations. Be pure in heart, do the difficult task and honor what Christ did on the cross for ALL. The sins He dealt with were much heavier than the ones we deal with. It is attainable. There is no excuse for holding on to un-forgiveness. Scripture teaches us, life is better with forgiveness and reconciliation. I am driven by the conversation I will have on the day I meet Jesus. Can you imagine looking Christ in the eye, Him asking you why you did not forgive this person and then telling Him that you did not forgive someone because they hurt you too bad? Since Christ forgave greatly so I can live in freedom, I will choose to do the same. Will you?