Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. But can I just be honest with you? I regularly meet people in my life journey who are bound up by the consequences of not pardoning an offender (someone who has hurt or wounded them). If you want to know how that unfolds, it looks like this:
– Someone offends (hurts) you. You choose not to address it in a timely manner.
– Hurt turns into anger. You choose not to address the anger.
– Anger turns into bitterness. You choose not to address the bitterness.
– Bitterness turns into hatred. You choose not to address the hatred.
You become toxic to yourself and everyone around: family, friendships, job-related friendships, church family relationships, etc.
So why do we hang on to unforgiveness to the point that it becomes toxic to us and those around us? Here are a few possibilities:
- The hurt is too great, so the offender doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
- The offender continues hurting.
- Memories of the hurt keep us from forgiving.
- We want the offender to pay, to suffer, to experience harm.
- Unwillingness to forgive until the offender takes responsibility for it.
- Forgiveness may be interpreted as acceptable behavior.
- Fears that forgiveness means a restored relationship.
- None of us deserves forgiveness, yet Christ was nailed to the cross for every single past, present, and future sin because we owed a debt we could not pay. We didn’t deserve forgiveness. But He felt mercy (compassion) towards us and extended grace. (Forgiveness is always a gift! It is not something we deserve but something we are given.)
- We need to forgive others for our own good. But that does not mean we have to continue to be subject to continued offenses. Set healthy boundaries.
- Sometimes we must remind ourselves we have forgiven someone. Unlike God, we aren’t always able to forget things. But we do have a choice to not live in the past.
- Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Trust God that He sees and knows what has taken place and that He does avenge sin. But keep in mind that He avenges our sins against others as well.
- Your offenders may never admit they hurt you, either because they don’t know they did (even though you think they should know) or because they don’t believe they did anything wrong. (We still must forgive for our own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health.)
- . Forgiving is not acknowledgement that the action/behavior was OK. Forgiveness is for our own well-being.
In Matthew 18:23 Jesus tells this parable: “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
Look at verse 27. The servant’s master took pity (mercy, compassion,) on him, canceled the debt (forgave him), and let him go (released him to freedom).
Genuine forgiveness starts with pity (mercy, compassion) toward the offender and results in forgiveness for the offended that is from the heart. The result is that both the offender and the offended are released from bondage.
If you’re having trouble forgiving please start praying that God will give you mercy towards that person. Literally pray for God to do that for you. Many will say, “I could never forgive that person.” No, you can’t; but God, in and through you, can.
And it starts with asking Him to give you mercy towards your offender. Dear ones, I have heard some crazy awesome stories from those who have trusted God to help them gain mercy towards an offender, so buckle up. He will amaze you!
Do you know God’s unconditional mercy and grace? If not, you can accept that free gift through his Son Jesus who died on the cross. You will never regret that decision to surrender your life to him. Yes, that means you may have to “give up” and put behind you some of your old life, but your new life means being held in the palm of God’s hand forever.
Copyright © 2021 by Vickie Arruda @https://purejoyinternational.blogspot.com/2018/11/mercy-key-to-forgiveness.html/ No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.