Forgiveness is not a feeling. Rather, it’s a decision. Oftentimes, it’s a daily decision. A tough one, but, still, purely a choice. Yet, it’s a choice we must make in order to fully heal from past hurts. Oh, I know it’s not fair. Someone hurts you…abuses you, misuses you, or worse…and you’re expected to forgive? Yeah, it’s definitely not fair that you have to forgive. But here’s the thing: As long as you don’t forgive, you are holding your own head under water.
It may be that the person who hurt you cares…that they want your forgiveness. But it’s also equally possible (maybe even more likely) that they don’t care. Maybe they are denying they’ve hurt you or are in denial about what they’ve done. If you’re waiting for someone to apologize before you forgive, you may be waiting an awfully long time. Maybe forever. No, friends, we can’t wait for that. Instead, we must choose to forgive. The reality is that you’re not forgiving someone to excuse the action or to say “It’s okay.” You’re forgiving to heal.
But, you know what? There is an even better, more important reason to forgive. We forgive because God has forgiven us. Those are the words of Colossians 3:13 – Forgive as the Lord forgave you. If you back up to verse 12, Paul, writing from a jail cell, tells believers to to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. In verse 14, he tells them to put on love, which binds all of these virtues together in unity.
It’s impossible for us to be in union with God with unforgiveness in our hearts. I think this is what Matthew 6:14-15 is talking about. It reads: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” These verses cause confusion for many, and I make no claims to be an expert, but it’s clear this is not referring to remission of sin. In other words, these verses are not saying that if you don’t forgive someone, then you are not saved. It is most likely saying that you cannot be in daily communion with God, if you are not willing to forgive others.
Listen, as “GotQuestions.Org” says in their explanation of these verses, “Any sin committed against us, no matter how terrible, is trivial in comparison to our sins against God.” Let that sink in for a minute. I know it’s tough to understand, but it’s true. While no one is expected to instantly forgive everyone who hurts them, and certainly some hang ups take a lot longer to recover from than others, it is critical we all understand the importance of forgiveness.
With forgiveness in our hearts, we are more free, more at peace, and more close to God. I think forgiveness is worth all that, don’t you?