“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
But why Jesus? Why do I always have to forgive.
Whew Chile.. Forgiveness. When I say that this has to be one of my biggest challenges up to date.
This is because forgiveness is expensive.. it will always cost you something. It cost God his only begotten son to forgive us – John 3:16 & Ephesians 1:7.
However unforgiveness is to your own detriment. As the saying goes unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. In order to be truly happy and free you must forgive.
When someone close to me hurts or offends me. I really internalise the pain. I close up and distance myself because I don’t want my vulnerability to be seen as a weakness. I used to block people straight away but I’ve learnt to restrain myself from blocking because of the damage it does to relationships, which sometimes cannot be repaired.
It actually takes good character and strength to overlook an offence.
So is unforgiveness ever really worth it?
Let me tell you unforgiveness makes you short sighted. It is not patient and it jumps to conclusions. It does not take into account all the times that the other person you are angry with has shown you love and helped you out. It eats you up inside.
I’ve realised that in order to remain in fellowship with another human being there has to be constant forgiveness from both parties.
To forgive is Christ like. God is forgiving.
“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”
Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Forgiveness does not mean being polite or civil, it is more than that. Forgiveness means you’re going to have to be the humbler person. You’re going to have to reach out first. You’re going to have to choose to show love to the other person.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Forgiveness will cost you one thing and that is pride. You will need to let go of your right to remain angry and offended.
So what do you do when you cannot forgive.
Be honest- allow yourself to process your emotions and be honest about how you’re feeling. Firstly to God (God cannot heal what you don’t reveal) and if you feel comfortable enough to the other person. (However, you don’t always have to talk it out). Write it down- be specific about how you feel, who and what it is you’re forgiving.
Try not to seek revenge. I realised that blocking the people who hurt me was my way of seeking revenge- remember God says vengeance belongs to him.
Spend time with God- I’ve found that spending time with God helps because it purifies my heart and mind. Ask him to heal you because only he can. It also allows you to handle situations objectively. I know this is hard to do but pray for the people who wronged you. Pray for their well-being until the bitterness goes. You won’t feel it at first but in the process of praying for them God will change your heart.
Choose life- to choose life means to chose to walk in love, freedom, peace and forgiveness. Don’t just say you forgive- make a decision to walk it out. Send the text message, make the phone call, do whatever it takes to remain free from the prison of unforgiveness.
John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”