To Forgive or not Forgive?

One of the best things about being a counselor is getting to hear people’s stories. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the worst parts. Some have beautiful stories, and some have stories that remind me of what a sinful, broken world we live in. Bottom line is this: We all have a story. If we’re honest, it wouldn’t take too long for any of us to make a list of all the ways we’ve been offended, mistreated, or wounded by others. And each time that we are done wrong, we are left with an incredibly tough decision. Will we forgive those that hurt us? Maybe you were hurt by a spouse, a child, or a special friend. Perhaps it was a boss or co-worker that left you angry and bitter. Whoever it was, whatever the circumstance, there is a choice to be made. To forgive or not forgive?

Forgiveness seems unfair, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. You see, forgiveness and justice doesn’t use the same scales. When we choose to forgive, we choose to absorb the debt we were owed by those that hurt us and that is painful and that isn’t fair. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you forget what they have done. Only God can do that! To tell someone to “forgive and forget” is about as unhelpful a piece of advice as you can ever give someone that has been wronged or who is hurting. When we’ve been badly hurt, we can’t forget (nor should we in many cases). But this doesn’t mean we can’t forgive. Get this: Forgiveness is the only path that will lead you to freedom from the mental, emotional, and spiritual chains that often wrap themselves around your wounded heart.

I’m convinced that the reason so many individuals have a tough time following and serving Jesus is because they have allowed an unforgiving spirit to dwell in their heart. You see, we cannot be wrong with others and be right with God. We forgive because He forgave us. It’s easy to love those who love us back and treat us well but it’s a whole different story when someone hurts us or does us wrong. But didn’t the Bible say to love our enemies? To do good to those what hate us? To bless those that curse us? To pray for those who hurt us?

There is absolutely nothing easy about forgiveness, but if you’re ever going to go all in for Jesus and serve Him the way He desires, forgiveness isn’t only necessary, it’s imperative. Sure, you can choose not to forgive but you’re only robbing yourself of the joy that Jesus has for you. When we refuse to forgive others, we won’t experience God’s forgiveness. Not because he will withhold it, but because we won’t think we need it. On the other hand, when we make the tough decision to swallow our nasty pride and offer forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it, we put the character of God on full display for others to see. And this is what its all about…for God to get all the glory!

The entire Christian story revolves around the theme of forgiveness. We see it on full display upon our bloodied and bruised Savior, who took all the sin and all the evil committed against him and absorbed it and forgave it. Jesus paid for what was taken from him and that’s why the cross changes absolutely everything! Jason Mitchell said it best when he wrote “The way of the cross means that we now agree with God that a new day and hope for tomorrow is possible because nobody’s sin is beyond redemption.”

Which will it be? Forgiveness or Bitterness? Will you continue to hold on to your anger or will you choose to forgive like Jesus did? After all, we know who we are and what we have done. And if Jesus knew all that about us and still chose to forgive us, what is our excuse? Choose forgiveness! And by doing just that, you will boldly proclaim to those that hurt you (and to the world) that evil, sin, injustice, and pain will not have the final word here.

Praying for you always,

Dustin

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