Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:32)
There’s an interesting thing about forgiveness. It works for the forgiver as powerfully as for the forgivee.
Some of us—by that I mean me—have trouble in the forgiveness department. Oh, we’re pretty good about forgiving those who apologize to us. We can be gracious and charitable—no problem. But as you know, most people who offend you don’t apologize.
Because they’re jerks.
And yet we’re called to forgive them anyway. The passage says, “Forgiving…just as in Christ God forgave you.” He didn’t wait for us to apologize before acting to forgive us. If he had, he would have been waiting forever, which he could do, because he’s eternal, but what’s the point of that when we never would have made the first step? Romans 5:8 says that, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still hurting him, he was offering forgiveness.
Does this kind of forgiveness heal the relationship? Not necessarily. The offender needs to acknowledge their sin and accept the gift of forgiveness in order for that to happen. Kind of exactly like it was with you and God. But forgiveness does more than release the offender from guilt; it releases the offended from bitterness. Forgive, as an act of obedience to God, and you are free to move on, regardless of what the other person does.
If you need to forgive someone today, may I humbly suggest that you follow God’s command and forgive. They hurt you once; don’t give them the power to hurt you over and over again.
There’s no one in your life you need to forgive? Don’t worry; you’ll get your chance. It’s only a matter of time.