Forgiveness

One of the hardest things to learn to do is to forgive others who hurt or wound us in some way. The immediate and impulsive reaction is either to retaliate and say or do something hurtful, or to bear a grudge and harbour angry and bitter feelings against that person. Both of these actions are entirely the opposite of forgiveness, which is what Jesus tells us to do.

‘For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matt 6:14-15). This is a sobering thought! Did you know that if you refuse to forgive others and harbour bitter feelings against them, then God will not forgive your sins? Shouldn’t that be enough to encourage us to forgive others? How terrible to live in a state where we are not forgiven because we haven’t forgiven! If we do not forgive others, why should we expect God to forgive us our wrong doings and grievances? We are all of us born sinners, and none of us are perfect. But whether others hurt us intentionally or unintentionally, our response ought to be that of complete and total forgiveness.

I’m sure that we would all want others to forgive us freely if we hurt or angered somebody in some way. Should we then not treat others as we would wish to be treated? ‘Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets’ (Matt 7:12).

When one nourishes bitter feelings against a person, they can gradually grow into feelings of hatred and harden the heart, until bitterness takes such a hold of that person that they are hard to reach and they become unhappy and unforgiving people, and not the kind of person that people wish to spend time with. When hearts grow hard through bitterness and hatred, they also become immune to the Holy Spirit, and such people have no joy of the Lord in their hearts, or experience of the love that He sheds on us and desires for us to spread to others. True love does not bear a record of wrongs (see 1 Cor 13). If Jesus can forgive those who mocked, scourged, shamed and crucified Him, how much more should we forgive those whose offences against us are minimal and so small compared to the grievances that Jesus endured from His persecutors?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44: ‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Here is our answer; this is how we are to respond! When we are cursed, hated, despitefully used and persecuted, our response should be that of forgiveness, which is love in action! It is hard, but through prayer, living close with our Saviour and desiring to do that which is right, forgiveness is achievable! In the past, when I have felt angry or bitter towards someone who had angered or hurt me, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me want to forgive, and He has!

When Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus how often they ought to forgive, Jesus replied, ‘I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, seventy times seven’ (Matt.18:22). In other words, no matter what, we should always forgive others who trespass against us. May God grant us the grace to forgive others readily and freely, just as He readily and freely has forgiven us.

Post written and submitted by one of our readers, Rebekah Driscoll


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6 comments:

  1. As with most sins, pride is at the heart of this issue. Pride is what makes us harbour a grudge because we thing that we deserve better.

    In this sense a resistance to asking forgiveness is very like not being willing to forgive. Something happens and it is our fault from everybody's point of view... except our own. Everything is either too big for us to be able to ask forgiveness for or it is to small, and we think that it should be ignored.

    So it seems that both unforgiveness and unrepentnace are at core the same; an overinflated view of ourselves, pride. And thankfully the Lord is willing to help us in this area as well!

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  2. Thank-you, Thomas - you made some really good and valid points there. It's funny how we can usually trace all of our sins to pride - it always seems to be the very root of all the sins we commit: unwillingness to forgive or to ask forgiveness, disobedience, selfishness, laziness etc. The list goes on.

    Thanks again.

    Rebekah

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  3. Do you think that finding it hard to forgive someone is because you are prideful? Wouldn't it then follow that it's sin for you to feel hurt because of something someone has said or done?

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  4. Tabitha, I wanted to just give my view on your final question. Being hurt and taking offense are two different things. We can't deny feeling, so if someone says or does something that hurts us we can't help that. It's how we respond to the hurt that matters and determines whether we sin or not.

    If we take offense it is because (as Thomas said) of pride, we are thinking or saying "how dare they do/say that to me, I'm worth and deserve a lot more, or am a lot better than that".

    Proverbs 18v19 says "A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city". As Christians isn't it our duty to be ready to forgive and ready to love, rather than priding ourselves in no longer talking to someone etc... because they 'offended' us? We are the ones who choose to, and then take offense - therefore the fault is with us, more than the offendor!

    What do people think?

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  5. Oops, sorry, I only just saw this comment yesterday! Thanks for replying, Becsy! :-)

    I would definitely say that taking offense and being hurt are two different things - I just wondered if anybody thought they were the same... Although forgiving some-one can be one of the hardest things Christians have to do, it's good to remember that, as always, Jesus has gone before us and shown us not only how to do it but also that it *can* be done!

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  6. Interesting blog! I think that forgivness is a really importent thing. No matter how many bad things happen; we should always at least want to forgive and be prepeard to forgive for if they apoligise. If people don't apoligise then you can't forgive can you?
    But you shopuld still want to forgive. Good blog.

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