We all appreciate being forgiven, but forgiving others, especially when they have wounded us, feels like a different thing. Emotions get involved. We decide they need to suffer for the hurt they’ve caused, and we delay offering forgiveness, sometimes for years, decades, or forever.
Getting Even Instead of Forgiving
When we hurt, we want the person who is the source or that wound to hurt as much as we do. But the Bible provides a different perspective.
“Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands” (Romans 12:19TLB).
Forgiving Those Who Don’t Ask for Forgiveness
As Jesus suffered on the cross, he asked God to forgive those who wrongly condemned him to death. Often those who offend us never ask for our forgiveness or admit any wrong-doing. Forgiving these people is perhaps the hardest. But Jesus is our example for forgiving those who don’t appear to be sorry or ask to be forgiven.
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Mark 11:25 NIV).
“The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9 NET).
While it may seem forgiving others is to their advantage, you are really the one who benefits most. Unforgiveness breeds anger, and swallowed anger results in depression. When you choose to forgive others, you give yourself a gift. Once you decide to forgive, you can move on with your life instead of stagnating in hurt and resentment, and in forgiving, you mirror a forgiving God.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6: 14-15 NLT).
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).
Asking for Forgiveness
It’s easier to recognize sin in others, than to see it in ourselves. Pride gets in the way, and often, we make excuses for our actions. But the Bible tells us unconfessed sin and unforgiveness block our relationship with God.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24 NIV).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7 NIV).
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:38 NIV).
“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9 NIV).
“O Lord, you are so good and kind, so ready to forgive, so full of mercy for all who ask your aid” (Psalm 86:5 TLB).
Copyright 2016 Candy Arrington. Used by permission.