People say that one of the hardest things in the world to do is apologize. But it could be said that one of the hardest things in the world is actually to forgive. Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” Peter wanted to know how many times he had to continue suffering wrong at the hand of a brother and sometimes we wish for a limit as well. But Jesus clearly shows that there is no limit.
It is possible to get to a place in your life where you feel unable to forgive. A place where someone has injured you so deeply that you don’t know how you could ever go back to the way things were. It’s not that you’re intentionally holding a grudge against them; it’s that you don’t know how to move past the hurt. I believe people are just wrong when they tell you to forgive and forget and then cite God’s ability to forgive sins and remember them no more. There is no way to actually forget when you’re suffering emotional scarring. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” God forgives sins and no longer holds them against you but they are not forgotten as if you didn’t actually do it. So we should not expect that when we hurt others or are hurt by others that the incident will just vanish from our or their memory. What we have to learn to do is accept that it happened and move on. I heard somewhere that holding onto anger is wishing that the past could be different. It can’t be any different; it’s in the past and it can’t be rewritten. So how can we accept that in order to truly forgive one another?
Dictionary.com defines forgive as, “To grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. To give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).” So in order to truly forgive we must absolve or give up all claim, but claim to what? Sometimes it’s difficult for us to forgive because we want some sort of justice. But what if the justice doesn’t come? If someone steals a diamond from you then sells that diamond to someone far away you may never see your jewel again. But if they ask you for forgiveness you must be willing to absolve them of the crime. It’s not to say you couldn’t work out some agreement of retribution with them but what if they didn’t have anything to repay you with? Could you still forgive them; could you pardon them from this offense? True forgiveness doesn’t forget and let them hold your purse when you go to the ladies’ room; but it does allow you to move on by suffering the wrong. 1. Corinthians 6:7 says, “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?” Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” I believe the popular saying ‘Let go and let God’ has never been more applicable than right here. You have to find the strength to trust God and His word. Romans says give place to wrath– meaning put it aside, for the Lord sees all and He will avenge you.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Looking to Jesus, who is our perfect example of all things, as He was teaching the apostles how to pray adds that life-defining guideline. Every one of us has needed forgiveness from someone at some time in our lives and this verse drives home the importance of forgiving others. Not only is forgiveness and not holding grudges good for your physical and mental health, it also represents how God will forgive you. If you want your sins forgiven, you have to be willing to forgive others when they sin against you. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes so remember when you are on the side of forgiving to be merciful and realize that it may not be too long before you are in need of forgiveness. God bless you.
By Brittany Davis
Brittany Davis is the Editor-in-Chief of Virtuous Magazine, a bi-monthly magazine for Christian women. Visit www.virtuousmagazine.com for more information and be sure to like Virtuous Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @virtuousmag.