Why Do I have to Forgive?
Do I really have to forgive everyone who has hurt me?
Let’s be honest today. When someone wrongs you, all you want to do is get back at that person, right? Isn’t the feeling of sitting down and plotting revenge in five different ways so yummy and exciting? Hang on – Jesus commands us to forgive! Jesus does not say there are times you can forgive and other times when you shouldn’t – he says we must forgive all the time. As this is a hard truth for many of us to put into practice, I thought to look in the Word to see what the Lord had to say on the subject.
I forgive because Christ forgave me
Despite the fact that I was a sinner bound to transgress in some way or the other, Christ forgave me and paid the penalty for my sins. Can you imagine that even though we were not yet born, he died anyway? He knew in advance that our human nature would cause us to sin repeatedly. Now, because he paid a steep price so that we could be forgiven, he expects us to forgive those who wrong us.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)
Christ set the standard for forgiveness by laying down his life for our sin. As such, because we have been forgiven, we must also forgive those who wrong us. Just as we seek to imitate Christ in all other areas of the faith, we must also learn to forgive as he did.
I forgive to release the burden of bitterness
Let’s imagine that you have a dear friend who hurts you really badly, and it takes you a long time to accept what has happened. After a while, you decide to start plotting your revenge. When this does not work out, you opt to carry the burden of bitterness in your heart and share your grief with everyone who cares to listen. Meanwhile, your friend has moved on with his or her life as you continue to hold onto your ‘pain’. With time, this pain becomes a huge chip on your shoulder, a burden that grows daily as you wallow in bitterness. What have you gained from holding on to bitterness in this case? Nothing!
Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NIV)
In the verses above, note that Jesus asks all who are weary and burdened to come to him. He then invites them to take his yoke upon them and learn from him. What can we learn from him? We can learn how to forgive when it pains us to do so. Which yoke must we take upon us? We can trade the yoke on our own shoulders, the yoke of unforgiveness, and trade it for HIS yoke, the yoke of humility and rest.
It makes no sense to keep carrying around a burden of unforgiveness when the other person does not even remember or care about what happened. Instead, forgive, and let Christ’s peace fill your heart.
I forgive because God commands me to do so
Matthew 6:14-15 ” 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.” (NLT)
In the verses above, God is commanding us to forgive; otherwise, he will not forgive us. Did you know that unforgiveness is a sin? Well, now you do! If we do not forgive others, we commit the sin of unforgiveness. Asking God to forgive you when you have an unforgiving heart towards someone else is futile. The plain truth is, if you are holding to unforgiveness, you are sinning, and God cannot forgive you.
Our Father loves to see broken bridges of relationships rebuilt. That is why forgiveness is so important to him. He chose to send his Son Jesus to bridge the gap that stood between him and us, and to restore the broken relationship through the forgiveness of our sins. If God had not forgiven us, we would be lost.
Dear friends, now that you know how important forgiveness is, are you willing to let go of the pain and hurt you have carried over the years, and forgive those who have hurt you? I am ready and willing to do so, and I hope you are too!
Lastly, let me share these words from the book of Psalms that describe God’s forgiveness so beautifully.
Psalm 103: 10-12 “He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (NLT)
Hi, everyone! As always, I would love to hear from you. Let me know what stood out for you in this article, and what comments you may have. If you loved the article, please share it with your friends. See you next week! Alison