But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.
I have struggled with this Bible verse in the past. In my nightly prayers, I would ask God to forgive me of my sins without a thought about me forgiving those who have sinned against me. Forgiveness for a Christ follower is not a choice. God has been very clear about forgiveness. There are many scriptures in the Bible that can be summed up in just one word: forgive!
It is in our best interest to forgive others. We are the ones who receive the most benefit from forgiveness, in part because it removes the hurt that we carry around. Forgiveness moves us toward freedom. Freedom begins as we start trusting God instead of trying to do it our own way. The reason God has been so specific about forgiveness is that he does not want anything standing between him and us. Our spiritual growth is hindered if we do not forgive.
“In the shadow of my hurt, forgiveness feels like a decision to reward my enemy. But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another” (Andy Stanley, It Came from Within!).
There was a person in my life that I loved deeply who disrespected me for more years than I care to remember. This person was verbally abusive, condescending, and selfish. I was hurt tremendously, and yet this person did not appear to suffer at all from their self-centered lifestyle. Forgiveness certainly felt like “a decision to reward my enemy,” but I knew that I had to forgive them. I found it easier to forgive knowing that forgiveness does not justify the deed or the person who sinned against me. The real determination of forgiveness is the decision to trust God to resolve the sin in others. We need to trust that he will resolve the hurt in us in his way. We will never heal until we forgive. Freedom with others grows as we choose to forgive.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Is there anyone you have not forgiven because you believe they do not deserve it?
Have you noticed how this has impacted your spiritual growth?
Start a conversation about the importance of forgiveness when you are at work, school, a doctor’s appointment, or anywhere you have the opportunity to mutually share your experiences. This exercise will help you to understand that everyone has been hurt and everyone should forgive.
Dear merciful Father, thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Grant me the wisdom to see those who have sinned against me as you see them. Help me to release the hurt and begin to love as Jesus loves. Above all, I am thankful. Thankful for your Son who experienced unimaginable pain so I could be forgiven. In his name I pray, amen.
This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn is the Real Estate Manager for Hancock County. She has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She feels blessed to be writing for the LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.
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