There is one simple thing about forgiveness. Jesus has forgiven us, so we forgive others. However, this simple thing is simple to say but not that simple to do. First, many of us only want to be forgiven but not to forgive. We want to be tolerated but we don’t want to tolerate. We want to be accepted but not to accept. After believing and accepting Christ, we learn to live in Him. We struggle to be more Christ-like day by day. We still make mistake, but we are forgiven. He said, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” (Luke 6:37). That’s the key. Jesus Christ has died and risen so that we receive forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9). So those are two things we need to know, that simply by confessing and forgiving then we are forgiven and sanctified.
Here is the interesting thing. Forgiving is not easy, but possible. It’s not the matter of CAN or CANNOT, but WANT or DON’T WANT. We can’t forgive if we use our own strength, indeed. Yet we are able to forgive by the Holy Spirit. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, said the Lord,” (Zechariah 4:6). Simply if we want, we can. How many of us don’t receive abundant blessing because we don’t forgive? We think that we can serve, we can receive blessing, we can still pray, although we don’t forgive. How come? When we don’t want to forgive, we are not forgiven. We are unholy. How can we enter the presence of God if we are unholy?
However, as I mentioned before, forgive is easy to say. Just like now, it’s easy for me to write this down. It’s easy to ask you to forgive, but I don’t know your feeling. I don’t know what kind of betrayal you faced that makes you so difficult to forgive. I don’t know how you have been hurt so bad. Here are some reasons why people don’t want to forgive, because:
1. They hurt us while we are good to them,
2. They don’t hurt us, but they hurt someone we love,
3. They made us lose someone or something important,
4. They betray us,
5. We think we are right and they are wrong,
6. They are not worthy to get forgiveness,
7. We think that if we forgive them, they will be free and you don’t want to let them free.
We have a lot of reasons to keep the bitterness. I understand it well because I felt it too before. I didn’t want to forgive my dad also at that time. Even 1 hour before I was baptized, I still didn’t want to forgive him. First I hated him because he let me and my mom suffered. Then after accepting Christ, I’ve forgiven him. 1 year later, I heard something that hurt me more, something about what my dad had done to my mom, something that I didn’t know before. I changed my mind. I hated him again. I took the forgiveness again. It’s not because he had hurt me, but he hurt my mom! I couldn’t accept it. I cried and I cried. I didn’t want to be baptized if I still couldn’t forgive. Then my godmother told me one simple sentence, “If you forgive, you are not just releasing him, but you relieve yourself.” So I made a decision to forgive for what he had done. Later, I heard a lot of stories that are far more tragic than me. It made me realize that my condition is not that bad. If people who have been hurt that much want to forgive, then why I can’t?
Okay, so now although our conditions are not exactly the same, but at least we know that I ever had big problems with forgiveness, too. We know that all of us have ever been hurt so badly. Nah, that’s why I want to share this. Now we are going to learn that forgiving is for our sake, not for others. Forgiveness brings reconciliation among us, between me and you, among people, and moreover, between God and us. Forgiveness brings reconciliation, reconciliation comes from forgiveness. How can we reconcile with God if He never forgave us and sacrificed Christ Jesus His beloved son? It all comes from forgiveness.
Maybe we think that people who have hurt us are not worthy to be forgiven, because they are still bad, because they still hurt us, or because they don’t even apologize. Friend, but we are as unworthy as them. What makes us good? Does anyone here never sin? We all do sin. Maybe we think but we never hurt like killing, stealing, mocking, etc. But it’s not only those things that make us unholy. Even if we think of something bad, even if we are only worried, we have done sin. We have hurt God. We hurt Him. Are we good enough for God? Are we worthy to be forgiven? Do we deserve forgiveness? Do we?
The other thing is, we think like this, “I have forgiven, but that person hurts me again. Again and again. I get tired of forgiving. I don’t want to forgive anymore. It has got over the line!” I thought like that too. Hehe. I’ve been too tired and I just thought, “I can’t deal with that. I give up!” Is it a right attitude? No. Let’s think it over. Once we repent to God, we confess our sin and we say sorry. We are forgiven. 5 days later, maybe we do sin again. Lying? Hating? Envying? It comes up without we expect it. Then, what will we do? We will repent again and apologize again to God, aren’t we? Isn’t it the same? The condition is the same right? God is hurt by us over and over, yet He forgives us over and over again. How awesome He is, isn’t He? Hehe.
Okay, now, the other one is about setting someone free. We keep the bitterness inside our heart. We don’t want to release the forgiveness, because we want to hold that person. We hold that grudge tight as if we can make that person imprisoned by his or her mistakes. We don’t want to let them free. However, we should know that the truth is, by keeping that hatred and grudge, we don’t imprison other people. We imprison ourselves. We imprison ourselves in the jail of anger, hatred, bitterness, malice, disappointment, and so on. That person maybe is laughing and living his life happily while we are sitting here chained by bitterness. On the other hand, when we forgive, we release the chain for ourselves. We set ourselves free. We are not imprisoned anymore. We think we don’t want to set them free, while actually what we do by forgiving is setting us free! We can do this, because in Christ, our chains are gone.
Maybe now we start thinking “It’s so easy for you to say so, compare ourselves to God, use God as an example, God is Almighty, of course He can easily forgive. But we are human, we are not God. It’s hard you know!” Now, let’s together look at this verse: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren,” (Romans 8:29). We are supposed to be like Christ, to become more Christ-like day by day. He is such an awesome example. We can see what He has been through, what He has faced, and how He reacted or responded. Every time we are hurt, just remember this:
Christ was betrayed by Judas. He was disappointed when His disciples slept instead of prayed. He was denied by Peter. Christ was not only hurt mentally by those people. They didn’t only hurt His heart, but they hurt Him physically, too. He was spitted, mocked, humiliated, scourged, beaten, kicked, and crucified. Yet He forgives.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed,” (1 Peter 2:21-24).
Now, there is one thing that we should know. Forgiveness actually is a package. In forgiveness, we have love and blessing. It’s a PACKAGE that can’t be separated. If we just said that we forgive, but we don’t release love and blessing, then it means we have not FORGIVEN. We’ve just FORGOTTEN. Can we love again after we forgive? Can we bless and pray for them?
Some of us are even funnier. They said they forgive, but they pray like this, “God, okay I forgive him. I won’t make him pay for what he had done to me. But I know You are fair. You will punish him for his wickedness.” Hey. God is not our personal executioner. Who are we? Do we have right to ask God to punish him for us?
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Romans 12:17-21).
See? We have no right to do that. It’s God’s right, not us. If God makes him pay, it’s because God loves him and God wants him to repent. Instead, we shall pray like Jesus, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34). After that, pour love and blessing to them, “heap coals of fire on his head”. This means we should give them warmth and joy. This is the true forgiveness. LFB. Love Forgiveness Blessing. Can we do this? Yes we can. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” (Philippians 4:13). Happy releasing LFB and we'll see the power of LFB! ^^
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” (Matthew 6:14-15).