Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. When my son disobeys me I find it frustrating at the time but there is no question that I forgive him almost immediately. Yet with relationships between adults, things get more complicated. A simple “I’m sorry” seems a lot harder to say, but even harder sometimes is “You’re forgiven.”
I love it when the Lord prepares my heart for something and I don’t even realize it until later. In the past few weeks I have felt wronged by a few people in my life. It’s not always easy to forgive the hurtful things people say or do. In my study of Exodus I am realizing that, although not a main theme, forgiveness and humbling himself was required for Moses to finally be used by God. I was driving in the car and heard a sermon on forgiveness where the preacher did an amazing job of dissecting why God calls us to forgive and how much He has already forgiven in us.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
Holding onto resentment and having bitterness towards someone is not what God wants. I may feel like I am hurting the other person by holding onto my anger but in the end I am only hurting myself. Letting go of my anger can feel like I am letting go of control. But that’s the lie that Satan would have me believe. In reality I was never in control in the first place! When I finally release all that pain that’s when I feel God’s peace and the freedom from the prison I had unknowingly put myself in.
The other realization was that forgiveness is NOT dependent on the other person. It’s a choice I have to make, sometimes daily. Whether the other person acknowledges their wrong doing or asks for an apology has nothing to do with my ability to forgive. Sometimes, ok most of the time, I don’t even bring it up with them (which is another issue in and of itself). But no matter what, I know that God commands me to forgive, period! Do I always want to, NO. Do I fall back into the temptation of recalling their past transgressions towards me, unfortunately YES! I’m not perfect! But for the unity of the body of Christ as well as my personal testimony to the world I want to obey God’s command to forgive.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Lord, help me be a light to others through my words and actions. Convict me of the areas where I need forgiveness as well as those times I need to forgive others.
Have you had times where it was hard to forgive? How did you handle that situation?