What is forgiveness, and why is it so hard? When we are born, we have much to learn. We must learn to speak, walk, and write, among so many other things. But with no help from anyone we learn to do the wrong thing, no one has to teach us that! There is no class for us to take to show us how to do wrong, to be selfish, hurt others or sabotage relationships. We know how to disobey God and others from the moment we are born.
That means that every single one of us needs the forgiveness that God offers. The amazing news is that God provides a way for all of our sins – past, present, and future – to be cast away from us. All we must do is say YES to the saving grace offered through the death of Jesus on the cross. God’s love for us is extravagant, and He loves to lavish His love upon us. One way he does it is by extending forgiveness to us. And yet we struggle to forgive other people.
So, what is forgiveness?
- It is a choice.
- It involves releasing feelings of resentment.
- It surrenders our desire for retaliation.
Why is it so hard to forgive?
- We can feel it means no justice for our pain.
- We can’t stop the hurt, which then invades our thoughts.
- We think other people’s sin is worse than ours.
What happens when we are forgiven?
- We receive an underserving gift.
- We get to offer this gift to each other.
- We get to start over.
What happens when we forgive others?
- We are spared a hardened heart.
- We are given peace of mind.
- We are obeying God.
One final thing about forgiveness is what it isn’t. When someone wounds us, forgiving them doesn’t mean they are not held accountable nor does it mean we ignore what they did. It does not mean we pretend that it did not happen, that we condone what they did, or think we can actually forget it. Forgiveness simply means we are letting it go, moving forward, and not allowing it to dictate our lives. When we allow unforgiveness to take root in our hearts and grow into a bitter product, we will never fully experience freedom in our hearts. To grow and mature in our faith, we need to extend forgiveness to others.