Because Jesus first forgave us, we should be willing to forgive others. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes we hold on to bitterness and grudges. How can we find freedom in forgiveness by following Jesus’ ultimate example?
Holding a Grudge
Have you ever held a grudge against someone who was mean to you or offended you in some way?
Because someone hurt me, I carried around a grudge that ended up hurting me as well. It weighed down my spirit, stole my joy, and kept me tied to the past because it was a weapon the enemy used against me.
I didn’t want to hold a grudge. I knew it was not the right thing to do. But I struggled with the idea that if I forgave the other person, I would have to associate with them. Therefore, in my immature thinking, holding a grudge meant I had a reason not to be around them. But through God’s word, I have learned that forgiveness does not mean that I condone the other person’s behavior, or I am condoning subsequent behavior. It means I am freeing myself from the pain and grief of the offense: understanding it is not my fault and understanding that the other person is human and capable of mistakes. The other person is also one of God’s creations. God will forgive them when they ask; that is their reconciliation. I do not have to remain in fellowship with the person, especially if their behaviors are sinful or unchanged.
All I had to do was forgive them. And I found freedom in forgiveness.
Why Do We Have to Forgive
But why? Why did I have to forgive the other person?
Because Jesus said so. He told the disciples (and us) to forgive endlessly and unconditionally.
Because of the cross where Jesus died for me. Jesus forgave my sins when I repented and professed Him as my Lord and Savior. With His forgiveness, Jesus gave me the ultimate bonus gift: eternal life. No questions asked.
I am not required to give away that gift, only to forgive. If I cannot forgive others, how can I live free in God’s grace?
Yes, I am forgiven. I am a born-again child of God. However, when I do not forgive others, I am hindering my walk with Jesus.
He reminded me of the act of forgiveness I needed to extend to someone else. Jesus convicted me because He commanded me, and you, to forgive one another. He wants our relationship to be right.
I was also holding onto that grudge because the other person was not sorry. They said they would not apologize. But I finally realized that was not my problem; I was making it my problem by being offended even more because they were not sorry.
I had to forget that in order to forgive. Maybe I should have considered what other outside factors could have influenced their offense to me. Maybe it was a simple oversight, an error in judgment. Regardless of the reason, I had to forgive them.
I thought about all the ways I had offended Jesus in my lifetime. This exercise made me want to hold my head down in shame. But I didn’t have to hold my head down. I. Am. Forgiven. He still loves me! Those offenses are erased.
Finding Freedom in Forgiveness
My friend, that’s the kind of forgiveness Jesus expects us to extend to others whether we receive an apology or not. Forgive them anyway. There is freedom in forgiveness. Our liberty comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died for us to be free from sin. Our salvation and liberties come only through our faith in him.
He forgives us. We forgive others.
Life is better with Jesus! Live loved! Live free!
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Colossians 3:12-13