“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
We’ve probably heard numerous analogies or phrases when it comes to forgiveness:
Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an even stronger person to forgive.
Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak, it sets you free.
Those phrases are true and we may even believe them. But, for some reason, we still struggle with forgiving others even those closest to us. Why? Because there is pain involved. When someone does something to wound us, it feels awful. To even consider not holding it against them is ridiculous to us. We need to make them pay for their actions, and we think withholding forgiveness is doing just that.
But they aren’t the ones paying. We are. Holding onto unforgiveness is eating us up from the inside out. It’s harming us, not the person we can’t forgive. What makes this even more difficult is when we are hurt by someone close to us; someone we “do life” with in our community. Walking in forgiveness is not only essential to our community with other Christ followers, it is vital for our own heart condition.
C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” For some reason, we think that our sin isn’t as bad as someone else’s. We look at the person who has held someone up at gunpoint and think how appalling their actions are. All the while, we excuse our years and years of gossip and little white lies because they “aren’t that bad.”
The problem with this belief pattern is that we are measuring ourselves against another human. If people are our standard, then the target is always moving. But when Jesus is our standard, we will realize very quickly that even our bad attitude or gossipy spirit is sin. That even wefall short of perfection. We cannot assume that our sin isn’t as bad. Consequences may be different, but all sin is missing the mark of God’s standard.
People will let us down. They will fail us. Even the ones we are closest to. Just like God has forgiven us for our sin, we need to do the same with others: we need to let them off the hook. When we have that understanding implanted deep within our hearts, it is much easier to forgive someone which will allow us to live in freedom.
- Do you tend to forgive freely or do you have a difficult time letting something go? Why?
- Who do you need to forgive? Ask God to help you choose to forgive this person.
- Write down any revelation that God speaks to you through today’s Bible reading or devotional.