It's Hard to Forgive

If we don not forgive, God will not forgive us, but when we choose to forgive, God will help us. Forgiveness doesn't come easy, but unforgiveness destroys human relationships and our relationship with God. We need each other. We need God. Choose to Forgive.

The crowded courtroom tensed. “The defendant, Robert Briswick, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. His drunken carelessness caused the death of your son and daughter,” the judge addressed the grieving father and mother before him. “What do you suggest as a punishment?”

“Your Honor,” said the man. “My wife and I have been praying for Robert. We have no wish to see him punished. But if the court chooses to incarcerate him, we would request permission to visit him to show him that we care what happens to him. Thank you.”

Forgiveness comes so hard. Our wounds are deep. Our hurts are real. “It’s not fair!” we cry.

Why is it so difficult to forgive the one who hurts us? Is it that we want to punish him? Do we want to make him suffer as much (or more) than we have? Do we think our hating and holding a grudge somehow evens the score?

The root of our problem is selfishness— we are focused totally on ourselves. That is exactly the focus Satan wants us to have. He aims to kill and destroy, and he knows a me-focus will destroy not only us, but also our relationships.

A me-focus ultimately hurts me more than anyone else. Refusing to forgive leads to physical ailments—ulcers, high blood pressure, even arthritis. Beyond that, unfor­giveness saps our physical energy and leads to depression and emotional ills.

Furthermore, our negative focus makes us become like the very thing we hate in the other person!

Unforgiveness destroys human relation­ships, but it also destroys our relationship with God. God says if we do not love our brother, we do not know Him (1 John 4:8). And 1 Corinthians 13:5 says love does not keep a record of wrongs.

When we do not have peace with others, we cannot receive God’s grace. Bitterness will spring up to trouble us at every turn (Hebrews 12:14, 15).

Even more sobering, God says, “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:15). Without God’s forgiveness, we have no hope, “but a certain fearful look­ing for of judgment and fiery indignation” (Hebrews 10:27).

Jesus told of a servant who owed a debt of millions of dollars. The servant begged for time. The kindhearted master, knowing that he could never pay the debt, cancelled it completely. That’s forgiveness!

However, this same servant found a fellow servant who owed him a few dollars and demanded prompt payment. The man could not pay, so the forgiven servant had his fellow servant thrown into jail.

The angry master called the first servant to him. “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all . . . Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?” The master then “deliv­ered him to the tormenters, till he should pay all.” Jesus ended the story with this comment: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:32-35).

Forgive from the heart—how do we do it?

Choose to release the offender. When we choose to forgive, giving up all desire to pay back and accepting the suffering, God helps us. His power takes over when we release our hurts to Him. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath . . . Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

By faith, act upon your choice. We show forgiveness and love by actions. Actions bring feelings. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them” (Matthew 5:44). Do those three things in reverse order. Pray daily for your offender. Do something good for him. Ask God to bless him. Love will follow.

“But,” you say, “I can’t forget.” True, memories may not go away, but when we truly forgive, God changes us and memo­ries lose their pain.

Thank God for working in your life. God uses suffering to work His plan in us and others. Thus, on the cross, Jesus could pray, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). His suffering brought us eternal life.

The Bible tells of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery. He forgave them, and later told them, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).

Whether the wrong was intentional or not, we must forgive.

The defendant, Robert Briswick, could never pay enough to bring back two dead children. Who of us could pay all we owe to God and to others? Only forgiveness can cancel our debt.

Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. Because of Him, God can forgive us—and He can help us forgive others. “Be ye kind . . . forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephe­sians 4:32).

We need each other. We need God.

Are you willing to release your hurts to God? To forgive from the heart?

Christian Light Publications

Back to List