How Christians Forgive
How do you feel when you know that someone has done something wrong to you or someone you care about, and they ask you for forgiveness? Most people without even thinking, will feel that if they forgive that person, they are condoning their behavior or what they’ve done. However, this is so far from the truth. Jesus said in
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Why do you think Jesus would actually want us to forgive someone who sins against us? Is it because He thinks we should condone sin? No. It is because when we ask Jesus to forgive us of our own sins, He does. And if we do not forgive those who have sinned against us, God may not forgive us for our sins.
In Mark 11:25, Jesus tells us:
25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
You see, if you want God to forgive you for your own sins, then you MUST forgive others. Now you may be asking, how can this be done? If someone has hurt you, forgiving them is usually the last thing you intend to do, right? Let me tell you a little bit about forgiveness. I honestly think that forgiveness is one of the hardest things we are expected to do in our Christian walk. If you know that you have to forgive someone and it isn’t in your heart to do that, how can you? Did you know that when you do not forgive, that person actually has power over you? That’s right, they actually have power over you. I say this because when you are angry, feeling rejected, or you are mentally or physically wounded by someone and you hold on to that, it is constantly playing out in your mind over and over again, just like a broken record. When you don’t forgive, you are actually hurting yourself.
Here is an example about forgiveness: Let’s say that you just caught one of your friends cheating with your spouse. At this point you are feeling angry, rejected, betrayed and bitter toward your spouse and your friend. Your spouse begs you for your forgiveness, but it just isn’t in your heart to forgive them. Your friend doesn’t bother asking you for forgiveness, so in your mind you feel that you will never forgive them. A few days go by and your spouse keeps begging for forgiveness, but still you cannot forgive them. You go to sleep angry each night and wake up angry each morning. But still, you do not condone what they did, so you will not forgive. Two weeks have now gone by and you still haven’t forgiven your spouse or your friend. You are now starting to suffer with migraines and you are drained because you haven’t been sleeping well. You become irritable and your job is starting to suffer as well. Now you are at a point where something has to give – or you are going to have worse problems.
Finally. You approach your spouse and say that you need to discuss what happened and where to go from here. You make the decision that if you want to continue in your marriage, you are going to have to forgive. At this point you forgive your spouse and you find a way to work things out. Just because you forgave, does not mean that you condone. You feel better because when you forgive someone, you are no longer resisting something that inevitably needs to happen in order to maintain your relationship
However… you still have not forgiven your friend and you never plan to. Your friend has been avoiding you and has had such a bad attitude. It is as if they have no remorse for what they’ve done to you and your family. The migraines continue, the anger still hovers in the background and you are still not sleeping well. What should you do at this point? The first thing that I suggest that you do is to forgive your friend. I know, it is not an easy thing to do. But there is a way of doing this, without even saying a word to your friend. What you now need to do is forgive that person in your heart. Obviously they are not coming to you asking for you to forgive them, and they seem to have no remorse, so I would not go to them and forgive them either. BUT I would forgive them in my heart so that they no longer have the power over me, causing me to hold on to that anger and resentment. Once you have forgiven somebody for wronging you, you will be set free. You will have no reason to hold on to any of that bitterness or negative feelings any longer. Sure the anger and resentment will creep back up from time to time, but you will just need to forgive them again and again, for as long as it takes. Even though your friend (or ex-friend at this point) has not asked for your forgiveness, if you take it upon yourself to forgive them in your heart, they never need to know. You are doing this for your own peace of mind and to heal your own heart, not to make them feel better.
So remember, when someone sins against you, once you have come to your senses, you need to realize that at some point you will have to forgive them and let it go; because if you don’t, it will eat at you until you do. Believe me, after many hard lessons and many sleepless nights, I finally began to use this technique in my own life, and it really has made a positive difference in the way I interact with other people.
May God Bless You,