We are all wronged at one point or another.
Someone said something hurtful. We were let down because a commitment or promise wasn’t kept. We get cut off in traffic. Someone commits a crime and we are the victims. We get lied about, cursed at, cursed about, hit, injured, insulted, and many other wrong, painful things. Some people suffer through things that are so painful because of a neglectful or drunk parent, or one with very unfortunate tendencies toward children.
This is, unfortunately, the inevitable consequence of being human. We are all capable of doing hurtful things and we are all capable of being hurt. And we have the tendency to take things extremely personally. We hold grudges and we hold our hurt and pain inside. Oftentimes, we wish harm and pain back on the other person, either in the form of karmic justice or the justice of God.
But holding in that pain and hurt and all that anger can cause extreme psychological and emotional and even spiritual issues. We don’t advance like we should, we are held back in our life, in any of the three categories listed above. We may be constantly angry or we are set off by the slightest thing. It becomes painful to live and difficult to wake up in the morning and face the day. Our nights are plagued by nightmares and we wake up in cold sweats because of the wrongs done to us.
And then, just when you thought you couldn’t hold it in any longer, that word that you hear way too many times in church or among your Christian or otherwise religious friends and family members crosses your mind.
Forgiveness is a funny thing.
There’s a few songs out regarding forgiveness, and one of my favorite lines is “It flies in the face of all your pride. It moves away the mad inside. It’s always anger’s own worst enemy. Even when the jury and the judge say you got a right to hold a grudge, it’s the whisper in your ear saying, ‘Set it free.’ Forgiveness.” (Matthew West, “Forgiveness”)
Every time we’re wronged, we get angry. And the anger inside of us doesn’t want us to let it go. It hates the idea of forgiveness. But it’s necessary to forgive.
As a matter of fact, it is commanded by our LORD, Jesus Christ.
When teaching His disciples how to pray, He tells them to ask for forgiveness from God. “…forgive us our sins…” (Matthew 6:12) However, it comes with a condition: “as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
Whether or not we are forgiven by God hinges on that one point. We must forgive every single person that wronged us if we want forgiveness from God.
Don’t believe me? Look down just two verses and read the words of Jesus there.
“‘If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.'” (Matthew 6:13-14; NLT)
These are very heavy words, and they carry serious implications.
We are commanded to forgive everyone and anyone who sins against us. If we don’t, we should not expect God to forgive us when we sin against Him.
I know this may not seem right or fair, but it is just. We are commanded to be like God. God is always ready and willing to forgive us, but we must be willing and able to extend that same forgiveness to others. As Jesus said, “‘Freely you have received; freely give.'” (Matthew 10:8)
Or, as the New Living Translation puts it, “‘Give as freely as you have received!'”
God has shown you great mercy and grace and has forgiven your sins. Go and do the same.
“Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
‘Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.” (Tenth Avenue North; “Losing”)
This is what the Sovereign LORD says.