Someone wronged you, and they are neither repentant nor wanting your forgiveness. So why forgive someone like that? Why forgive someone who will just go out and hurt you again? Perhaps you feel that forgiving someone will just enable them…almost like giving them permission to do it again. Where is justice in forgiveness?
There is no doubt that there will be times when forgiveness seems like an injustice. Shouldn’t people pay for what they do? Yet the Bible commands us to forgive. In fact, God said, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26).
Peter, probably wondering the same thing as you are, asked Jesus how many times he was supposed to forgive someone before he could exact justice. Jesus responded, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). That seems overly done to most of us. Why would we want to enable a person to wrong us 490 times? Who is ever going to keep track of that many times anyway?
Why You Should Forgive
Forgiveness isn’t something you do for the sake of the person who wronged you. It is something you do for yourself, so you can heal. I don’t forgive people because they deserve it, or earn it, or even ask for it. I forgive them for a very selfish reason.
The main purpose of forgiveness is to free yourself from the burden that the pain has inflicted on you. Bitterness is a cancer that’ll destroy you and your relationships–relationships that have nothing to do with the person who wronged you. As a pastor, I’ve witnessed this root of bitterness defile so many things that a person holds dear.
I knew a woman who held so much pain and bitterness against a person that she had literally made herself sick and physically weak. If she could forgive the person that had wronged her, she’d be able to release the burden of that pain and the bitterness and move on.
The truly tragic thing about a grudge is that it hurts you more than the person you hold it against. In many cases, the other person is unaware of your grudge or the depth of your grudge or even of the fact that they may have hurt you. Even if they are aware and had hurt you deliberately, they certainly aren’t thinking of you as much as you are thinking of them. So your anger, bitterness, and pain are only hurting you. It is only destroying your own spirit.
Christians are supposed to be big on forgiveness. I should know. But even they miss the main purpose of forgiveness. It isn’t to pretend that the wrong done to you is okay. It’s not so that you can give some offender a pass on his wrong or to pretend you weren’t hurt or angry. It isn’t even to demonstrate how holy and righteous you are. It is to release that anger from your own heart, to release the burden of the pain that you carry around.
Jesus told Peter to forgive people until it became instinctual or habitual. He, being the Son of God, had much more clarity in this than we do. But the example suffices to demonstrate that unless we forgive, we have a human tendency to carry a grudge, to carry bitterness, to carry the burden of pain. This burden crushes you, not the person who hurt you.
Forgive people. Do it for yourself so you can function in life, see clearer, and not have to live with the painful burden of bitterness.
Don’t look at the other person to determine if they are worthy of your forgiveness. It’s not an issue of worthiness or even of relevance. It is about you releasing anger, pain, and bitterness. Carrying such a burden will affect your marriage, your friendships, your family, and every other relationship you possess. Your revenge plotting will twist your mind more than it makes the person who hurt you suffer.
Let it go–for your own sake.
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We've heard it said often that we need to forgive and forget. What a wonderful thing it would be if we could actually forget the wrongs done to u