The word forgive appears in various forms i.e. forgiveness, forgiving, forgiven in the bible over 150 times, and yet this is a concept that many people struggle with.
Webster defines forgive as:
a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one's enemies>
Forgiving is a topic that is difficult for many people, myself included and takes time to learn. Thankfully, Jesus showed the perfect example of how we should forgive others.
Forgiveness was a concept that I struggled with for many years. I would hold grudges and completely cut people out of my life if they wronged me. Forgiveness was a word not a part of my vocabulary except, of course, when I needed God to forgive me. Thankfully, God revealed to me that just as I had made mistakes which hurt him, others had made mistakes which hurt me. I wanted God to forgive me so who was I not to forgive others even when they did not ask for it. By reminding myself that people make mistakes which sometimes hurt me allowed me to forgive. I thought I had finally figured out the key to forgiveness until I was tested again.
This test came in the form of the person who I always had issues forgiving… my father. The relationship between my father and I has always been extremely fragile. My father was not a part of my life growing up and as a result there had been many years of hurt, disappointments, anger and resentment. However, I had forgiven him and in recent years we had been delicately working to build a relationship. After I had gotten engaged I told my father who was extremely happy for me. I told him that I wanted him to attend the wedding and he said he would. A few weeks prior to the wedding I called him to confirm he would be attending since I had not heard from him. Unfortunately, he told me that due to a potential job position he would not be able to attend. For me this was devastating. I could not imagine how a father would not want to see his only daughter get married. It was a horrible blow to our relationship one that I did not know if we would be able to recover from. I wrestled with the idea of forgiving him for days before I honestly believe I was able to forgive him.
At our small group meeting someone said “Forgive as quickly as you expect God to forgive you” This phrase has stuck with me since that day. I believe that God will forgive me as soon as I ask him to, however I struggle with extending that same courtesy to others. If I am to walk in forgiveness not only do I have to follow the commandment to forgive, but I must also forgive as Christ forgave. He demonstrated forgiveness up until the time of death when he prayed “father forgive them for they know not what they do” Jesus forgave the very people who were putting him to death and causing him extreme agony. The best part about God is that he forgives and remembers our sins no more. People often use the phrase “I will forgive you, but I will never forget.” This goes against what God does for us. We should strive to forgive quickly, forget, and to love just as Jesus did. This week I encourage you to forgive those who have hurt you.