Forgiving Others...Has Someone Offended You?
Hello and welcome. Have you started making plans for how and where you’re going to spend your holidays yet? This is the time of year when many of us see people we haven’t seen for a while and talk with long lost friends and relatives. It can be a joyous time for some, and a painful, unsettling time for others. For some of us it is a combination of the two. You might really want to visit your mother, but that would mean putting up with your sister who hasn’t apologized yet for some past offense. It might mean having to see or spend time with your “ex” for the sake of the children. I have known a surprising number of couples that have one parent that likes their spouse and one that doesn’t. These kinds of situations have the potential of ending in an uncomfortable family or friends gathering. Whatever your circumstances, there is no better time than right now to address any underlying feelings of unforgiveness or resentment you may be carrying in your heart toward someone.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a very strong directive regarding our willingness to forgive, regardless of the offense. “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15; NASB) That’s pretty direct and to the point. There is no room for negotiation in that statement. Either you forgive others for the things they have done, or God, the Father, will not forgive you for the things you have done. Nowhere in Scripture is there anything that softens that statement. There is no one who does not need the forgiveness of the Father. If you agree with that statement, then you have to agree that there is no one that can afford not to forgive anyone that has done them wrong. You might be saying to yourself right now “there’s no way I can forgive him or her for what they’ve done.” If that is what you believe, you’re probably right. But God can provide the forgiveness in your heart if you are willing to accept it. The question is, are you willing?
God does not ask anything of us that He will not help us do, if we are truly unable to do it. The truth is, in most cases, the one that has been offended is not willing to forgive. Think about it, if someone did something “unforgivable” to you or a loved one, your natural reaction is going to be the expectation of some form of justice. This “justice” can come in the form of something as simple as an apology, or as severe as life in prison or even the death penalty for the offender, and anything in between. Jesus did not give us any stipulations or conditions for our forgiveness. He just said to “forgive others for their transgressions.” The offense is not a consideration.
If you pray with an open, willing heart to receive, asking God for help to forgive, He will answer that prayer. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have to put in some work. You may have to pray right up until you come face to face with the offender. Maybe you will never see the offender again, or maybe you’ve never met him/her before, these kinds of things have nothing to do with your forgiveness. You will still need to pray until you feel the offense lift and the forgiveness enter your heart. Try it, it works, and you will be blessed for the effort through restored relationships and a renewed peace in your life.
Until next time, I pray you have a blessed week. God bless you all.