The Act of Forgiving
We are to forgive others just as God forgives us.
A few years ago, someone strung out on drugs killed my friend’s 14-year-old son. His son was a good kid and had aspirations of one day becoming a Preacher. The death of this young Godly man devastated the church and community and made headlines nationwide, mostly because of how forgiving the father was towards his son’s killer. Many people were shocked that my friend and his wife were so willing to forgive the person who killed their only son. They didn’t understand and said they wouldn’t forgive him if it were them. He tried to explain to them that as children of God, we must forgive others just as God forgives us, but many still didn’t get it.
Forgiving someone who hurt you or someone you love is not always easy, and sometimes we want to hurt those who hurt us. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you are letting them off the hook, especially in the case of the guy who killed my friend’s son. He still wanted the guy to be punished for killing his son, and he was, but because he loved God and knew how many times God had forgiven him over the year, he knew that God expected him to offer the same grace.
In Matthew 6: 14-15, the Bible clearly tells us that if we forgive others, God will also forgive us, but if we do not forgive them, neither will God forgive us. Matthew 18: 23-35 tells the story of the unforgiving servant. A servant owed his master ten thousand talents, and when he couldn't pay, the master was going to sell the servant along with his wife and child to get the money owed him. But the servant fell humbly at his master’s feet, asking for more time to pay the debt that he owed his master; the king, and the master, full of compassion, took pity on the servant and forgave him of his debt. But then, the forgiven servant remembered that someone owed him money, grabbed him, and demanded that he pay him what he owed. His fellow servant begged for patience and promised to pay him all that he owed him, but the forgiven servant would not and, lacking compassion, had his fellow servant thrown into prison. When word of this was reported back to the master, he was grieved and scolded the servant for not giving his fellow servant the same compassion that he was given and, from there, had him thrown in prison until the original debt was paid. This is also what Father God will do for everyone who does not forgive others. What the servant owed his master was much more than what his fellow servant owed him, yet he was unwilling to forgive him of his debt.
We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory; none of us are perfect. It’s so easy for us to point out someone else’s sin, overlooking the plank in our eye. We want to be forgiven but don’t want to forgive others. As previously stated, forgiving someone for hurting us or someone we love doesn't mean they will be let off the hook; vengeance belongs to God, and He will repay them for what they have done, whether in this life or the next. In God’s eyes, sin is sin; the one who gossips is just as guilty as the one who commits adultery. And the one who hates his brother is just as guilty as the one who takes a life. We are to love God and man; you can’t do one without the other. You can’t say you love God but have unforgiveness towards your brother in your heart. When you forgive someone, you demonstrate love toward them and God.
If you have difficulty forgiving someone, ask God for help; ask Him to help you forgive them and not be bitter towards them. Ask God to help you see them as He does and fill your heart with love for them. Pray that they will have an encounter with Him and turn from their wicked ways. This may not be an easy prayer to pray, and it may take a few tries before you are able to pray it like you mean it. An example may be:
Father God, I’m having a hard time forgiving the person who hurt me. Help me, Father, to see them as you see them and love them as you love them. I pray that they will have a supernatural encounter with You, seek you, and turn from their wicked ways so that you may heal their heart. I know by forgiving them, I am imitating Christ and demonstrating love for you and them. Thank You for continuing to love and forgive me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.