Many of us have felt God’s forgiveness for the sins we have committed against him. That is His love expressed in a very deep emotional way to us personally. Forgiveness can come in many forms. Let me address the forgiveness that God commands us to give when wounded at the hands of another.
It is so important that we understand His directive is not a “suggestion, or an idea, not a let me toss this out there and see what you think about it. When Jesus spoke His Sermon on the Mount to His disciples it was very personal, and I believe from deep within his heart. His words recorded in the book of Matthew 6:14-15 are about our relationship with him…visualize Jesus softly speaking with His disciples and saying these words…”For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I would say that is pretty black and white but, in my bible, it is red meaning Jesus is speaking. That is not me saying that. As far as being his exact words, there have been many translations down through the years, but I think we all understand the point he was making.
I believe once we are in a relationship with God through his forgiveness and our confession of faith in Him, in order to continue that fellowship we must forgive those who sin against us. If we choose not to forgive others, then the question should arise in our hearts “am I obeying God?” How can we not forgive others after what He has done for us by dying a horrible death for everyone’s sins? Everyone means everyone!
WOW! That is one of the hardest things that Jesus commands us to do, forgive someone who has wronged us. It is not easy for me, I usually need to wait for a few months which in turn means they have control over me for those few months.
Forgiveness to others takes a very personal action on our part. Rarely will a person who has hurt us come to us and ask for forgiveness. It does happen, do not get me wrong. Most often they have moved on with their life within hours or days of the offense especially if they have no idea what they did hurt us. People hurt people without even knowing it. Trust me I have done it with my mouth that speaks before I think about what I want to say. There is a wire lose up there somewhere. I think it happened when I was 5 and I jumped out from behind a tree in a sidewalk to scare a guy riding his bike and he ran over me. I had 36 stiches installed that afternoon in the perfect shape of a horseshoe on the top of my head. Not sure if it was from the bicycle or the rider after he caught me.
Even during the worst day of our saviors walk on earth, the day he took the sins of this world on himself, beaten, whipped, weak from loss of most all of his blood, while dying for those sins, including mine and yours, was able to forgive the thief beside him and ask His father to forgive those who crucified Him.
In Luke 23 verse 33 and 39-43….And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, both one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” One of the criminals who was beside him criticized him, by saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are justly sentenced, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Giving forgiveness to others is indeed an exceedingly difficult area in a person’s life. It is far too easy to just get angry and hold onto that grudge until we hear they have died. And maybe a few years after that! Everyone can tell me a story of when someone has done something to hurt them. When we are wronged, our natural inclination is to fight back and to seek revenge.
Un-forgiveness of others is like me drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. That doesn’t work. It will kill me long before it does the rat. Forgiveness is a sign of gentleness and kindness whereas revenge is a sign of the savage nature of our being. Forgive, you will live longer.