Forgiveness can be hard. The pain of being wronged can cut very deep. There is a sting, and maybe even a scar, that won’t seem to go away. When you think of that particular person, maybe there is this darkness that seems to manifest out of nowhere. You have tried to get along with him, but you can’t get past what he has done to you. Until he comes and apologizes for every bit of pain and hurt that he has caused, you don’t want to have anything else to do with him. You don’t necessarily want bad things for him, but you don’t even want him on your radar. You don’t want to think about him.
But then we read passages like:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'” (Matthew 18:21-22, ESV)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” (I Corinthians 13:4-5)
So what gives? How is this possible? How can I possibly forgive someone who doesn’t seem to want the forgiveness? How can I forgive someone who has done something so terrible to me? How can I forgive someone who has hurt me in a way that it has affected not only my entire life but that of my family as well? I don’t think God would expect so much from me.
But then we read this verse:
“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'” (Luke 23:34)
Is there really anything that someone can do to wrong me that is any worse than the wrong I do to Jesus? I mean, it is my sin that placed Him on that cross (Isaiah 53:3-5). What can someone possibly do to me that is worse than what I have done to my Savior?
Two quotes I read recently sum this up perfectly. One came from Adam Faughn in his book Understanding the Love Chapter, p.48. He said “Christians need to change that trend and teach ourselves and our children to have a longer fuse. We must let God control our emotions. There is a time to get angry, but with our brothers and sisters in Christ, grace needs to be the rule, not the exception.” The other quote came from Jacob Rutledge recently on Twitter when he said, “I wonder how many disagreements in the church would quickly dissipate if we had to argue with our brother at the foot of the cross.” (@preacher_tweets, 8/5/2018)
When you think of that person you have a hard time forgiving, think of yourself standing at the feet of Jesus as He hangs bloody on the cross. Then ask yourself if you deserve to be forgiven.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)