I’ve been told that I’m a good “forgiver”. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, “Why do you still let so-and-so in your life after what they did?”. I used to shrug and say, “everyone makes mistakes, right?” But I really never gave it much thought. I assumed it was a part of my personality. The part of me that hates confrontation and will do anything – including forgive – to keep the peace. But these last few months, I’ve had to really test forgiveness. I’ve had the opportunity to forgive someone in my life, and forgive myself. In this process, I really dug deep into what forgiveness is and how it’s done.
To understand forgiveness, we must first seek the source – God.
God is the ultimate forgiver. I once heard someone say, “If Jesus had to die for your sins, then it’s not really forgiveness.” I can understand the misinterpretation of why Jesus had to die on the cross, and rise again. You see, forgiveness and consequences are not mutually exclusive. You can have the hardship of consequences while reaping the grace of forgiveness. In other words, while God forgave me for my sins, the consequences had to happen. There was still a price for my wrongdoing, just like when your teenager slacks off at school. You will forgive them, but they’re still going to lose video game privileges. That’s forgiveness with consequences.
God sent His one son to this earth to live a sinless life only to die the death of a sinner. Take that in for a moment. God loved us so much that he didn’t want us to suffer for an eternity for our sins. He gave the consequences to Jesus and the forgiveness to us. If God can forgive us for the horrible things we’ve done – and we’ve all done horrible things – who are we to deny forgiveness? Are we so holy that we are above God? Is our judgement higher than His? If the creator of this earth, of us, can look at an adulterer, a liar, a murderer, a bully, an abuser – the list can go on forever – with love and forgiveness, why on earth do we think we have the right to do any different? Perhaps we need to humble ourselves.
Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. Forgiveness is just that – forgiveness. It is not staying in a bad situation. You can forgive someone and still choose to let them go from your life. That would be part of the consequences they would experience.
Some might say that some people don’t deserve forgiveness. You’ll often hear someone who is upset say, “I’ll never forgive you for this.” But we must remember that withholding forgiveness doesn’t hurt the other person. It hurts us.
3 Ways Withholding Forgiveness Hurts Us:
Holding on to hurt and anger is like a poison that slowly spreads throughout your body. You develop bitterness. It can change your whole outlook on life. It can make you physically ill, or cause you to sabotage important relationships. It could mean the difference between living a happy life, or a miserable life. When you truly forgive, you let that go. You don’t free the person who wronged you. You free yourself.
When you’re unforgiving, you’re missing out on something God wanted you to learn. In this imperfect world, we have pain. It’s inevitable. Someone will do something to offend you and/or hurt you. When this happens, you can let that sit on your heart and weigh you down, or you can choose to forgive. Ask God what He wants you to learn from this experience. There is a lesson in everything. We’re just usually too consumed with our feelings to see what that lesson is.
Withholding forgiveness will separate you from God. Let’s take a moment to reflect over our lives. We could all fill a notebook (or a few notebooks) with a list of our sins. We’ve hurt people; we’ve hurt God. We’ve been unfaithful and often times we try to justify it instead of repenting. Still, God forgives. His love is perfect and faithful regardless of our impure hearts. So imagine what it must feel like to God to forgive us absolutely everything, to send His son to die for our sins, only for us to withhold forgiveness to someone else, or even ourselves?
So, how do we forgive someone who has hurt us?
Take a little time. There is nothing wrong with wanting a little space. Often times our hearts have to catch up with our brains. Give yourself a moment to catch your breath.
Withhold your words. Hurtful words tend to fly when we’re hurting. You know that annoying saying “two wrongs don’t make a right”? Well, it’s true. If you handle tough situations with grace, you will only have to deal with forgiving the other person rather than forgiving them and yourself for the way you reacted.
It’s likely you’ll have to forgive something over and over again. Sure last week you felt like you had a brand new start with someone. You’d forgiven them – all was well. But today, someone brought up the one thing that cut you deep, and the pain is fresh. Suddenly you’re back in the moment it all happened. You have to choose to forgive again. And again.
Pray pray pray! God is a pro at forgiveness. So we should constantly be asking for His help with this. It’s His desire for us to live healthy, happy lives. Forgiveness is a part of that plan. Spend time with God in His word and in prayer. Open your heart. He will speak to you. He will help you through it.
With this being the week of Easter, it’s important for us to remember how much we need forgiveness in our lives. It’s as important to give forgiveness as it is to receive it. Offering grace where it isn’t deserved is the best way to show love for someone.
*Below is a link to a video. Please take a few minutes to watch it. Love and blessings you you all! xoxo
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
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
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
PLEASE watch this video! It will change the way you look at forgiveness.