13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
That is a tough command to receive. Forgiving can be difficult, and we all struggle with it. Sometimes when I am trying to justify unforgiveness, I have little conversations in my head with Jesus.
Jesus: “Forgive this person.”
Me: “But Lord, he is just going to do the same thing again.”
Jesus: “I never said forgive someone only once. Remember – ‘70×7’?” (He explains that he meant daily here, not lifetime total).
Me: “But Lord, he isn’t even sorry!”
Jesus: “I don’t recall telling you to wait for remorse before forgiving a person.”
Me: “But Lord, he hurt me terribly.”
Jesus: “Unforgiveness hurts you more.” (Ouch!)
Me: “Yes, Lord. But …”
Jesus: “But what? Forgive this person …as my Father forgave you. ”
Me: (meekly, with lowered head) “Yes, Lord.”
That last bit of interaction always does it: “As my father forgave you.” God forgives me numerous times daily. He does not qualify his forgiveness in any way; He forgives me freely although he knows I am a sinner and will always fall short. When I stop and think about forgiveness this way, how can I not forgive?
Funny too, when I finally stop being stubborn and self-serving and forgive the other person, I always feel better. Have you ever heard the expression “don’t let them occupy space in your head rent-free?” That is what unforgiveness does, and it is a costly price to pay. Seriously, think about it; we tend to spend more time and negative energy in our thoughts regarding someone whom we resent than we do thinking about someone against whom we hold no grudge. This tendency keeps us moving forward, from finding joy and deepening our relationship with Christ.
Do you hold a grudge against someone? Are they living in your head rent free? Forgive them! If you are having trouble with letting go of the hurt, anger, resentment, take a moment to remember all the times our Father unquestioningly forgives you. Thank Him. Then, lay your unforgiveness at Christ’s feet and, in your heart, sincerely forgive your offender. This simple act will free you to live a more Christ-like life.