When It’s Hard to Forgive

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In Matthew 18:21-35, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone whenever they sin against them, as much as seven times? Jesus replies by saying not seven times, but seventy-seven times. He then tells the parable of the unforgiving servant.

A servant owed a King ten thousand talents – the equivalent to millions of dollars today. But the King had compassion on the servant and mercifully canceled his debt. However, shortly after the incident, the same servant was not so gracious with another man who owed him one hundred denarii- the equivalent to a few dollars.

When the King heard that the servant he had graciously had mercy on did not have the same mercy on another, he was furious. He sought the servant and threw him in jail until he paid every penny.

How often are we the unmerciful servant? We are unable to forgive others the measly few dollars they may owe us, while God is the King who has forgiven us the millions of dollars we owe Him. Not only do we offer little grace towards others but we tend to harbor bitter grudges against them. Sadly, I know I am guilty of this.

But here’s the truth, because of our sin and other’s sin, there is no way to go through life without getting hurt. We will get hurt by others because we live in a fallen, sinful world.

1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love keeps no records of wrong. It is always patient, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” So to do anything other than that is not love, it is hate- to do Satan’s work. Jesus’ greatest command was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.

If we choose not to forgive and keep records of wrongs, we will grow into old, bitter men and women. Not only is that unattractive, but it is not the way of the Prince of Peace.

I seem to, and I think we have as a culture, forgotten to love people just the way they are. Instead, we demand they change into the people we deem them to be, and if they don’t, they aren’t worth our time or love. We expect perfection in their performance and any flaw or defect is not acceptable.

We refuse to forgive the dollar our friend or coworker might owe us, when God is enthroned in heaven already forgiven us our millions we owe Him. How crazy is that?

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15

So whether it’s something you consider small or large, take it to Jesus. He cares about the details of your life. It hurts Him to see you hurt. He is longing to redeem, protect, and rescue you. And He works everything for the good of those who love Him. 

I have been feeling so much freedom lately from doing something Ney Bailey mentions in her book Faith Is Not a Feeling. Reading her book, I realized I held onto a lot of grudges and bitterness towards others in the past. God does not want us to live like this and it was holding me back spiritually.

I wrote down every single person or situation that bothered or upset me. I then went through the list and thanked God and prayed for each person and situation. I can’t even explain the immediate relief I felt. It was truly supernatural. And although at times there have been moments I feel bitterness trying to creep back up, I simply thank God again and pray big, bold prayers.

Doing this also opened my eyes to see areas where I needed to go and ask others for forgiveness. I’ve found so much freedom from the past and joy in the present knowing God is in control of every relationship and circumstance I’m in. He sees when I’m hurt and he sees when I choose to forgive, no matter how hard it may be.

Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan’s way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus’ way? Why else get angry? Isn’t it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment, will pound me up into the full life I really want? When I choose- and it is a choice- to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of the Darkness? Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective- more expedient- than giving thanks?  – Ann Voskamp

What I’m learning is that forgiveness is just as much for us, if not more, than for the other person. Jesus says to forgive others because He wants to spare us from the chains of bitterness and hatred that will bind us down and keep us from the abundant life He has for us.

There may not be reconciliation or relief, but there can always be forgiveness. We must continually remind ourselves, “ten thousand talents, that’s what I owe, how can I turn and not forgive others one hundred denarii.”

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. – Matthew 18:15

Maybe you need to ask someone for forgiveness or finally forgive that person from your past that hurt you? Don’t wait another second. Go somewhere private, and pray big, faith-filled prayers asking for forgiveness and deliverance from bitterness and resentment. There is freedom, relief, and favor from God waiting for you when you forgive. And if God graciously forgives our sins past, present, and future, how can we not turn and have the same mercy and grace on our neighbor?  

3 thoughts on “When It’s Hard to Forgive

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