How easily do you forgive an offender?
After many years, the Lord has enabled me to live in a spirit of forgiveness — most days. Note that this is the Lord’s doing and not mine. This blessing from God frees me almost instantly from the wrongs perpetrated upon me. This is not a form of suppression; it is liberation. Further, I want to forgive others ASAP because that is how I want to be treated.
And, if we do not forgive so readily, then Matt 6:15 ought to provide sufficient motivation: If we do not forgive we will not find forgiveness. Holding a grudge, then, means that God will turn a deaf ear to prayers for forgiveness, which I need daily, if not also hourly.
Were it all up to me and my fallen human nature, vainly I would be laboring in Grudgeville, suffering as I bear the load of others’ sins while believing that every transgressor owes me an apology. One cannot expect to grow spiritually while in such a state of heart and mind. I have come to conclude that, what must happen is transgressors need to realize their offenses and apologize; but it is utterly pointless for me to hinder my own prayers and spiritual growth by demanding an apology from them. What a waste of valuable time and emotional effort that is.
It is not my job to feel sorry for myself, and it is impossible for me to bring anyone to a state of repentance. How many parents demand that offending children apologize to a sibling or someone else? How disingenuous was that? A forced apology is meaningless if not altogether counter-productive.
Numerous New Testament verses regarding forgiveness say nothing about an apology. Rather, we are instructed in several verses to forgive as Christ forgave. And how was that? Well, our Lord’s claims of deity as shown, for example, in his ability to forgive sins was a major reason Jesus was nailed to the cross. Looking to the cross and hearing the words of Jesus, therefore, can enable us to grasp the command to forgive as he forgave.
Jesus looked at those who were jeering, spitting, and cursing. He looked at those who had punched, kicked, whipped, and beaten him, had torn out his beard, pierced his scalp with a crown of thorns, driven spikes through his wrists and feet, and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Of course, the people were fully aware of what they were doing with regard to their hate-filled invectives, the brutality of their actions, and the cruelty of the crucifixion. Other than members of the Lord’s family, his followers, the repentant thief, and the Roman Centurion, the mob had no clue that God of very God, the Son of God, was the victim of their ire.
Are there people in your life who have offended you whether knowingly or unknowingly? Free yourself. Forgive them. Only then will the grudge you hold against them let go of you.