For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. – Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness is surely one of the most misunderstood concepts in Christianity. Despite the fact that we are all called to forgive as our Father in Heaven forgives, misunderstandings are widespread. Yesterday in my small group we listened to a message called ‘the bait of Satan’ by John Bevere, so I just wanted to cover a little bit about this today.
Forgiveness is not initially about the person who wronged us; it’s about us. If we will not forgive someone who failed to meet our expectations, we start to change on the inside. We grow in anger and resentment. The quality of our own life continuously suffers and in this way, we compound the wrongdoing until it becomes something far more damaging than it originally was. One of the most important reasons we must forgive is that we cannot grow into the mature Christian whom Jesus is calling us to be with all that hurt and animosity building up inside us. Forgiveness is that act by which we release ourselves from our own prison of bitterness.
Forgiveness is not easy, but it is also not optional – our Lord commands it in Matthew 6:14 as a prerequisite for our own sins being forgiven.
If you are having difficulty forgiving someone today, take a moment and examine your reasons. Is it because the hurt is so big? The bigger the hurt, the more devastating is your prison of bitterness and therefore the more important it becomes to let yourself out. Are you having difficulty because they have not apologized and show no signs of changing their behavior? Remember that your forgiveness is about you, not about them. Are you struggling because you are still so angry and hurt? The pain will not subside until you make the choice to forgive. Ask the Lord for the strength and conviction to emulate Him, and make that decision today.