You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. –Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
A father mourns the death of his teenage boy who was killed when a drunk driver hit the car he was driving. A police officer was shot and paralyzed from the neck down by teenagers he was questioning in a park. A woman was brutally beaten and raped by an unknown attacker. All of these people have suffered trauma from a wrong done to them. The wrong done was outside of their control. Still, in all three cases, the people who suffered also made a conscious decision to forgive the people who caused the trauma. It amazes me that people who suffer such extreme wrongs can work through the pain in order to forgive.
There is no doubt that granting forgiveness can be difficult. But, most of us don’t have to deal with forgiving such huge sins against us. Most of us deal more on the level of forgiving a family member for taking our last Twinkie. Regardless of the extent of our hurt, to be sure, we all experience hurts from time to time. While forgetting is usually impossible, forgiveness is not. In fact, Jesus expects His followers to be people of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a choice. It includes the ideas of canceling a debt and cleaning the slate. We don’t forgive others so that God will forgive us. Rather, we forgive others because God has forgiven us. We prove that we understand what forgiveness is all about when we forgive others. If we regularly harbor grudges against others who have wronged us, it means that we’ve either never understood or never experienced God’s forgiveness.
Forgiveness is more than God’s suggestion. It is a command. Even though we may feel hurt and angry with others who have wronged us–and although it’s okay to take time to process those feelings–we need to forgive them if we have experienced God’s forgiveness in our own lives. Forgiving others is to be a hallmark of those who follow Jesus.
1. What was Jesus’ attitude towards those who were killing him? How difficult do you find it to forgive someone who hurts you or someone you love? What would have to change in your life to be the kind of forgiving person that Jesus is?
2. Who in your life needs your forgiveness? What will you do about it?
Matthew 18:21-35; 6:14-15; Luke 23:32-34