We’ve all had someone slight us, not live up to our expectations or hurt us in some way. It happens. We’re all human.
When we are hurt, we’ve all probably been advised to follow the age-old adage “forgive and forget.”
In my past, the way I understood forgiveness was in a passive, push the hurt under the rug, sort of way. And I think a lot of us end up thinking about forgiveness that way.
But that’s not at all how the Bible actually tells us to forgive. It’s a lot more active than just dismissing the hurt someone caused you.
Forgiveness, by definition, means to grant relief from payment of a debt or other harm caused to us.
That means, first, admitting that you were hurt, accepting that someone has taken something from you (that could be peace, joy, physical well being, monetary possessions, you name it) and then literally deciding that they no longer owe you what they took.
Practically, think about if a close friend said something rude to you. You’re immediate reaction is probably to desire an apology from them.
If you don’t admit that you were hurt by this (even if it’s just to yourself), you might allow it to fester in your heart and turn into bitterness toward them.
So in your heart, you say, “wow that hurt, but I’m going to lay down bitterness and decide that they don’t owe me an apology.”
Even if, by most standards, they should apologize to you.
It would be awesome if they did apologize, but forgiveness is a whole lot more about the position of your heart than the position of theirs.
There are a lot of calls to forgiveness in the Bible (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 6:37 to name a few), but the verse I think that best describes what God is asking us to do is Colossians 3:13.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
The words “bear with each other” to me means more than just relieving a payment due. It means continuing to love someone well despite being hurt and not letting silly things put distance between you and the person that hurt you.
That’s exactly what God does for us. Think about all the times you have ignored God, not trusted Him, not loved Him well and much, much more. Not only does He forgive these things we do, but He went to the very extreme to show us His love and affection.
He forgave us of our sins—all the ways we fall short of His glory—through the exchange payment of His son, Jesus in order to re-establish a relationship that we damaged in the first place.
So let’s choose to forgive, as our Father in Heaven chose to forgive us.
Author | Lindsey Conway