Forgiveness is possibly the hardest of all the commands God gives us Christians. I prefer the easy stuff like “Do not kill.” I’ve got that. But forgive? Oh, man. That one is hard.
I have to be honest here – I can enjoy refusing forgiveness. I can delight stewing in anger and submerging myself in self-righteousness. “How DARE that person do/say that?” “She thinks I’m wrong? After what she has done?” I have spent days, weeks thinking of all the ways someone has wronged me. I find new reasons to stay angry in every look, email, even body language. Sometimes, I even bring others in. To “advise” me of course. I tell them how I have been wronged and wait for them to agree that I am SO right and that person is awful. So I add the sin of gossip to my sins of bitterness and anger.
You can see the problem here. First, I am miserable. Then, people around me are miserable. Worst of all, my relationship with God is affected because I am blatantly disregarding His word. In many ways. Even my health is affected – I don’t sleep as well, my head aches and stomach does strange things.
And many times, I refuse to forgive because the other person hasn’t asked for it, yet. They don’t think they have done anything wrong. How dare they!! Therefore, I MUST be angry and let them know it so they will see their wrong and seek my forgiveness.
But, as much as I have tried, there is nothing in the Bible that supports any of that. God doesn’t give me permission to hold onto anger and bitterness. He does not allow me to withhold forgiveness. Not for any reason.
There is joy in forgiveness. Freedom. Peace. It is hard, no doubt. And we can think of MANY reasons why we shouldn’t have to forgive. But those reasons are not from the Lord. Here’s what He has to say about it:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” ~Col. 3:13