What is the most difficult thing that you have ever had to do? I’ve been thinking about difficult things. Not just things that are hard to do, but things that are physically exhausting, heart-wrenching, spiritually depleting or emotionally draining. The kind of thing that, when it’s over, you say I don’t EVER want to go through that again! We’ve all had those experiences in life. Things that we would never choose if we had a choice. Things that we hope we will never have to do again.
For the Christian, one of the most difficult things in life is to forgive. It’s not easy to forgive someone who has turned your life upside down; who has hurt you and left scars that run deep into your soul; who has betrayed your confidence and made a mockery of your relationship.
There has been a lot written about the subject of forgiveness and everyone has their opinions – and excuses for why they cannot forgive someone. We even have our Biblical arguments why we’re not required to forgive (IE they didn’t ask for our forgiveness; they haven’t repented yet; they violated God’s law etc. etc.). I want to focus on just one passage. It’s the same passage in which Christ taught His disciples what is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. In the verses immediately following the prayer, Christ said this:
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)
No mention of anyone asking for forgiveness; no mention of repentance; no sorrow for violating God’s law. Just forgiveness. In fact the passage is not directed to the violator but to the one who has been hurt. It’s all about us, not them. They are not told to seek forgiveness or to repent. We are just told to forgive. It’s our choice. We are the ones God is talking to.
And the consequences of our actions cannot be any clearer. If we forgive as God forgives (that in itself is a mind-boggling issue worthy of a separate discussion) we can expect God to forgive when we seek Him. But if we refuse to forgive the one who has hurt us, God will withhold His forgiveness from us. That’s a serious issue. Think of the potential impact that can have on your life: unanswered prayer, lack of power with God, broken fellowship with God and God’s people, no victory, hindrance of spiritual growth.
We’re dealing with an extremely powerful issue here. And it all comes down to whether or not you are willing to forgive as you have been forgiven. You can make all of the excuses and rational arguments you want, it’s a simple, straight-forward issue. Are you will to forgive or not? Of course they don’t deserve your forgiveness! That’s just the issue. You don’t deserve God’s forgiveness but every time you come to Him asking, He gives it (Matthew 18:21ff). Now you have the opportunity to let someone see God in you.
It’s time to forgive the prodigal son or daughter. It’s time to forgive the offending spouse. It’s time to forgive the friend who has betrayed you. It’s always time to forgive. It may be the most difficult thing that you will ever have to do, but it’s the right thing to do. And by God’s grace (which is the reason He forgives you) you can do it.
Stay in the Word