We are supposed to forgive. The old saying, “To err is human; to forgive, Divine” is biblically accurate. In Matthew 6:14 we are told, “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.”
Strong words. And scary. In the “Lords Prayer”, when we ask to be forgiven as we forgive others, that’s testing ourselves. It means we are asking to reap what we sow- if we are unforgiving, then we should be treated with unforgiveness. We are actually giving God the Okedokee to leave us unforgiven of our sins if we never forgave anyone.
Forgiveness is hard. It means swallowing our pride (for me, that’s a mouthful), becoming humble, listening to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) instead of the Yetzer Hara (Hebrew for evil inclinations within us), essentially being as God wants us to be. Man-o-Manischewitz, that ain’t easy!
What’s the alternative? Well, the only way to get rid of the hurt is to forgive. Oy!! No, really? I don’t want to, that creep doesn’t deserve it…I’d rather burn in hell than let that nasty so-and-so be forgiven! Guess what? If you don’t forgive, you just may get that wish.
Remember this: we don’t forgive them so they become right with God, we forgive them so WE become right with God. God demands we forgive. As far as the other person, only God can forgive sins against Himself. We can only forgive them their sins against us. If it makes you feel better, try this thought on for size: we may forgive them, which will be seen as proper in God’s eyes, but if that person doesn’t ask God for forgiveness, and really mean it (you can’t fool God), he or she will be spending Eternity in suffering. Really, when you think about it, no matter how terrible their sin against you, eternal suffering is worse. As a Believer who is forgiven through Messiah, we will have eternal joy. And I think I can say this with some degree of certainty- when we are past this life and in God’s presence, we will feel more love and compassion for those that are suffering than we can now, in human form. Knowing that we forgave them will not help them, but we will know we did what was right when we had the chance.
People who are nasty, unforgiving, hateful, prideful, all those natural human traits, well…they are hurting. I have all those traits, and when they manifest themselves it’s always when I feel hurt by others, or by life. When I feel like life has kicked me in the you-know-where, all I want to do is strike back and hurt it, too. That’s our first inclination when people hurt us, and it is never going to change. What will, and must, change is how we act when we are hurt. We need to control our reaction so we have the time to take proper action. That means calling on the Ruach, remembering what God says about forgiveness, and actually thinking about how much that other person must be hurting to be so mean. If we think about their pain, how terrible it must be to make them do something that hurtful and mean, it has to make you feel bad for them. Not that this will happen right away, but if you remember what forgiveness is all about, it will come. And as you practice it, it will come faster and more easily.
Forgiveness goes against everything human, but we aren’t supposed to let our humanity overcome His Spirit, right? Isn’t that what dying to self means?
Forgiveness stinks to humans, but to those who love God, it is a fragrant aroma.