Years ago, if someone hurt me, I responded in kind. After all, they hurt me; they deserved to feel the way I felt, right?
Over the years, as I’ve intentionally pursued the heart of God, I’ve discovered the beauty and benefit of being quick to forgive. I’ve also realized that an inability to forgive – and an inclination to retaliate – is, like so many other sins, rooted in pride.
Forgiving can be challenging, especially if the person needing your forgiveness hasn’t asked for it or shows no remorse. But the Bible repeatedly instructs us to forgive (Colossians 3:13).
Making the choice to forgive isn’t quite so easy as “forgive and forget,” however. Sometimes we’ve been hurt so deeply, it truly is humanly impossible to forget. Even so, we can choose to not hold the trespass against the offender. We can choose to never bring it up to him or her again. The strength to do this comes from the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
So why is forgiveness so important?
First, we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This means that we are meant to be the exact graphic imprint of His nature. We were created to be a visual representation of what He is like: His love. His pure nature. His holiness.
This is why we inherently know some things are wrong. Even as our culture embraces more and more wickedness, something in the heart of mankind, deep down, knows what is holy and what is not.
After we were created, man fell, sin entered the world, and our reflection of God’s holy nature became marred.
When we forgive, especially when we’ve been deeply wronged, we are reflecting God’s image the way it was meant to be shown.
Think of Jesus on the cross: Did He feel anger or resentment toward His torturers?
Instead, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Through prayer and the power of the Spirit, we can embrace this same mind-set. And any time you obey God and follow after His ways, you will reap the benefits.
Forgiving someone can be SO hard – but the benefits of surrendering your pain to God in this way are so beautiful.
Forgiveness is liberating.
Any time you act in obedience to God’s Word, you WILL experience freedom in your spirit, and this is such a beautiful thing! Authentic forgiveness removes barriers between you and the Lord as you exemplify His nature. You will also more readily be able to ask Him for His forgiveness when you fall.
We can’t forget that the Word says if we do not forgive, God will not forgive our sins (Matthew 6:15). And because of the pristine purity of God’s holiness, the seemingly smallest trespass we commit against God is so much greater than anything any other human can ever do to us. We need His forgiveness. And for that reason, we cannot afford not to forgive.
We need His forgiveness. And for that reason, we cannot afford not to forgive.
While forgiveness is healthy for our spirits, it’s also healthy for our bodies. Unforgiveness turns into bitterness. Not only does bitterness defile us spiritually and make us fall short of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15), but it’s also linked to chronic illnesses in the mind and body.
When someone has hurt you, it can be hard to forgive, but again, it’s a choice we can’t afford not to make. When you choose to forgive, you take the power from the one who’s committed the offense against you. As long as you harbor bitterness or unforgiveness against them, they have control over you.
So let’s choose forgiveness! A forgiving heart reflects the character of Christ, and it’s what He’s commanded us to do. Choose freedom today! Choose forgiveness.
P.S. One of the best books I’ve ever read is The Bait of Satan by John Bevere, which is about forgiveness. This book is worth a read, even if you don’t think you struggle with unforgiveness.