When It's Hard to Forgive
"Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us." (Luke 11:4, NLT )
"I can never forgive them." Perhaps all of us have heard (or even said) those words. Of course, they are often understandable – especially in the heat of the moment, or under pressure, or in a crisis. But how sad if we can never let go of them. For not to forgive, Jesus said, is to lock ourselves in a prison that we can’t get out of.
Mike well remembers the mother of a child who was murdered in the town where he led his first church. Of course, it was horrific, and we cannot imagine the agony that the family faced, particularly as the body wasn’t found. But throughout that lady’s life, the one thing that "kept her going" was bitterness and a desire for revenge. Whenever interviewed by the newspapers or television, the same bitterness would still be there; she was never ever able to let go of it and she died a bitter, twisted, and lonely lady. She had put herself in prison and thrown away the key.
God’s heart is that we should experience something better than this, no matter what we might go through or how people might hurt us. Of course, God knows He is asking us to do something difficult in telling us to forgive; but He also knows that it will be more difficult for us if we don’t! That’s why Jesus taught so often about the need for forgiveness. Peter thought he had finally got the message, and one day came to Jesus saying, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). He expected a pat on the back for his generous viewpoint; but instead Jesus told him he hadn’t even started to understand the issue! Seventy-seven times – in other words, an endless number – is nearer the mark, Jesus said.
You may be finding it hard to forgive someone; but the promise of God is that if you will make the decision and just do it, you will find yourself freed. Don’t stay in your prison – turn the key and come out!
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont