Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Forgiving Others

“I will never forgive him for what he did!” Have you ever said that to yourself about someone who deeply hurt you? Imagine if you are in a relationship and you are cheated on. It would be hard to forgive. Right now, the families of high profile figures like Tiger Woods, Governor Mark Sanford and former Senator John Edwards are walking through this.

When someone you trust lies, physically abuses, verbally intimidates, tricks or uses you – it hurts. It causes emotional injuries that swell up into resentment, anger or bitterness, which all lead to unforgiveness.

What can you do when someone hurts you? 1) Bury it and never talk about it again. 2) Sever the relationship ties through divorce, quitting the job or ignoring the person. 3) Get revenge and make the person pay.

Is there a better way? Yes. Forgiveness. The person who has hurt or injured you emotionally is a “debtor”. They owe you. They owe you an apology, the effort to make things right or just something for the pain they caused. Forgiveness means you choose to “write off” their debt so you are no longer demanding the person apologize, make things right or do something to take away the pain.

Why forgive? First, because it is realistic and pro-active. In real life, the person who hurt you probably will not or simply cannot make things right on your terms. Therefore, forgiveness takes the first step and forgives rather than waits. Second, forgiveness heals. Only forgiveness can heal the resentment, anger or bitterness. It is a self-healing medication that you have the power to give yourself. Otherwise, you will carry the injury for the rest of your life.

The ultimate example on how to forgive is found in God. You and I hurt God through our sins. They were an offense and angered Him. As a result, we became a “debtor” to God. Even so, in an act of amazing grace and mercy, He took initiative to provide a way for our forgiveness. He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the debt for our sins against Him.

I pray that we can learn from God’s example. As He extended grace and mercy to us who offended Him, may we extend the same towards those who have offended us. Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). In Him may you find hope for today.

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