“I will never forgive him for what he did!” Have you ever said that to yourself about someone who deeply hurt you? When someone you trust lies, physically abuses, verbally intimidates or uses you – it hurts. It causes emotional injuries that swell up into resentment, anger or bitterness. And what the person has done, makes them a “debtor”. Meaning, because of what they have done, they owe you. They owe you an apology or something to try and make things right.
In these situations, have you ever asked yourself, “What do I really want from them?” Honestly speaking, is there anything they could realistically do to make things right? I am going to guess that in most cases, probably not. Especially if they have died, have nothing to do with you anymore or are uncooperative. Most likely, whatever you could think up for the person to do, would either never happen or end up not being enough.
There is only one sure way of handling situations like this. Forgiveness. It is written, “. . . as the Lord [Jesus] has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossian 3:13). Forgiveness is an often-used term in financial sectors, referring to the forgiveness of a loan or another type of financial debt. It is also used in relationships with the same idea. When someone has offended you, they have accrued an offense debt. They would pay it off by voluntarily coming and admitting what they have done, making no excuses, and apologizing. Then in response you forgive the offense debt and peace is restored in the relationship.
However, it normally does not work that way. Typically, the person who hurt you never comes to make things right. Let me ask this tough question. Will you forgive the one who has hurt you without them admitting any wrong? It is easy to forgive when the person genuinely apologizes, but hard when someone arrogantly refuses. In situations like these this is where forgiveness is desperately needed, but can only be done by the power of God.
In our natural humanness we will only forgive if someone meets our conditions for it. And when someone does not meet our conditions, we refuse forgiveness. According to God’s standards though, He requires forgiveness. No matter the gravity of the offense. No matter the attitude of the offender. No excuses. God commands us to forgive.
Why? Because the eternal destiny of our unseen soul depends on it.
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Jesus provided an example. He suffered, died and rose again to provide the forgiveness you and I need for our offenses against Him. He chose to do it despite our selfish attitude and rejection of Him. He made a way for the ungrateful to be forgiven. In the same way, we must forgive others. Because through the cross Jesus forgave, so must we.
If we refuse the consequences are dire. God will not forgive us. Think about it. How can He forgive us, if we refuse to forgive others? How can He allow an unforgiving person into His forgiving eternal home?
In our natural state, it is nearly impossible forgive, but with the power of God, it is possible. Simply, by faith, call out to Him for help. Admit your weakness, but also your willingness to do it.
A prayer for you – “Lord God, I pray you will help the reader to see if there is anyone they need to forgive. Surface a name and face, and nature of the offense. Bring them to submit to your command to forgive no matter how hard it is. Then empower them through the Spirit to actually forgive, releasing the person from any offense debt they owe. Enable them to forgive like Jesus and experience your grace. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Hope for Today is a nationally syndicated column. Please share your comment or question with Clint at firstname.lastname@example.org.