“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. Forgiveness is surely one of the most misunderstood concepts in Christianity. Despite the fact that we are all called to forgive as our Father in Heaven forgives, misunderstandings are widespread. In this devotional, we want to broaden your understanding of what it means to truly forgive.There are times when we need to forgive someone for something they have done. On occasion it can seem so difficult…almost impossible. But forgiveness is not an option for you and me as followers of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is an act of the will. You can forgive. In fact, Jesus said that we even need to love our enemies, those who may not want peace with us.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”~ Matthew 6:14-15
First, we have to acknowledge that forgiveness is not an emotion. It is a conscious choice which has nothing to do with how we feel. Forgiveness happens when we choose that we will no longer expect those who hurt us to repay us for the harm that was done. We choose that we will get on with our lives and no longer dwell on the hurt.
Forgiveness is not initially about the person who wronged us; it’s about us. If we will not forgive someone who failed to meet our expectations, we start to change on the inside. We grow in anger and resentment. The quality of our own life continuously suffers and in this way, we compound the wrongdoing until it becomes something far more damaging than it originally was. One of the most important reasons we must forgive is that we cannot grow into the mature Christian whom Jesus is calling us to be with all that hurt and animosity building up inside us. Forgiveness is that act by which we release ourselves from our own prison of bitterness.
Forgiveness does not require that the wrongdoer apologize or is remorseful. It does not even require that they are aware of the fact that they hurt us. Forgiveness does not mean that we forget the offense and it certainly does not mean that we need to stay in a relationship with the one who wronged us. All that is required is that we simply say, “I’m letting this go. I will not let this incident change me in any way. I’m getting over it.” What the wrongdoer does or does not do should make no difference in our decision to move past it and begin our healing. As we release them from their duty to remedy the harm that was done, we release ourselves from the burden of making them accountable to their responsibility.
Forgiveness is not easy, but it is also not optional – our Lord commands it in Matthew 6:14 as a prerequisite for our own sins being forgiven.
If you are having difficulty forgiving someone today, take a moment and examine your reasons. Is it because the hurt is so big? The bigger the hurt, the more devastating is your prison of bitterness and therefore the more important it becomes to let yourself out. Are you having difficulty because they have not apologized and show no signs of changing their behavior? Remember that your forgiveness is about you, not about them. Are you struggling because you are still so angry and hurt? The pain will not subside until you make the choice to forgive. Ask the Lord for the strength and conviction to emulate Him, and make that decision today.
Please share this blog with others and I hope and pray it will encourage another in the Lord and inspire their walk with God!