If someone were to read the New Testament for the first time, they would surely notice that forgiveness was a big deal to Jesus. While Jesus had compassion on those who were hurting, he was still firm in his stance that they needed to forgive people who hurt them.Note Jesus’ words to the disciples on forgiveness…
“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).
While this is a hard command to swallow, we must remember that God would not command us to forgive unless it was for OUR good. If anything, forgiveness releases you to fully acknowledge how something hurt you, but protects you from being controlled by it. Although forgiving someone may be the hardest thing you do, God guarantees freedom, peace, and healing when we finally choose to do it! Finally, it is extremely importnat to know what Biblical forgiveness does NOT mean. For example, forgiveness is not:
Implying that someone did to you was okay
Saying that you need to restart a relationship with the person
Telling you to ignore the way you feel about the situation
Promising that if you forgive them everything will immediately change
What forgiveness DOES mean is, because of how God forgave us, we choose to give up our right to hold something against others. In other words, when we forgive, we are saying that we will do whatever necessary to want the best for that person, instead of revenge.
How do we know if we are living in unforgiveness towards someone? If you find yourself constantly bitter, angry, or wanting revenge on a person who hurt you, there is a good chance that there are some things that you need to forgive. How do you do forgive? Be real with God about how you feel, and then ask Him to change your heart. Ask Him to help you forgive. You can be confident that He will respond because God would not command you to do something as hard as forgiving if He was not willing to help you do it!
Finally, be okay with the process. Depending on the level of hurt, forgiving someone may take you a week. Other times, it may take you years. But no matter how long it takes, I can guarantee you that the freedom, spiritual blessing, and health that will come from your decision to fight unforgiveness will be worth it.