Forgiveness can be a difficult topic.
Over the years, I have had opportunity to talk with women whose husband's have been unfaithful; young people who have had a rocky relationship with their parents; friends who've been betrayed by someone considered to be a close confidant; individuals who have been hurt by a pastor, teacher, or other fellow "Christian", etc.
Many, if not all, of these broken relationships have caused heartache and deep wounds which have affected every aspect of their adult lives, and it is difficult to forgive. We know God wants us to forgive, that it is in our best interest to forgive, yet, everything about the situation continues to re-play itself over and over again in our mind to the point we find ourselves resentful towards the one(s) who have wronged us.
So, why should we forgive? What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Let's take a look:
1. We have been forgiven much, therefore we should forgive much. There is a story in the Bible about a man who owed a large sum of money, and who was forgiven the large debt, yet in turn, demanded a small amount owed him by another servant, to the point of throwing the man in prison until he could pay (Matthew 18:21-35). The forgiven man definitely did not return the favor of his own forgiveness. I guess the real question we must ask ourselves is are we like this man? Have we been forgiven by God for all the things we've done against His holiness, yet refuse to forgive the temporary hurts others have caused us?
You and I have been forgiven much. Our sin is what nailed Jesus to the cross, but unlike us, He is always willing to forgive when we turn to Him and ask. It is God's will and our responsibility to offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Nothing anyone can do [to us] compares to what our sin cost the Savior.
2. Unforgiveness hinders our prayers. We are told in a number of passages that if we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, then God will turn a deaf ear to our prayers (Matt. 5:23-24, Matt. 6:14-15, Mark 11:25-26, 1 Peter 3:7). Imagine if I were to hold a grudge against someone who wronged me. In reality, I am speaking to God out of both sides of my mouth. On one hand, I am trying to be spiritual and draw near to God offering Him praises and worship, but at the same time, I am bitter and angry sometimes to the point of hatred, at a person God loves and who was made in His image. This cannot be. If we want to truly have a clean heart and clean hands before our Father, then we must forgive others. In turn, our prayers will be heard and not hindered.
3. Unforgiveness hurts us more than anyone. Finally, when we harbor unforgiveness in our heart, it does something to our insides. We become tense and rigid. Our brains become more susceptible to depression, anxiety disorders, etc., our cells become less able to fight off cancer and other sicknesses. Bottom line, forgiveness is extremely important to God but also to our own personal health. Whatever you might be harboring today, get rid of it. Life is too short to hold onto things that God is big enough to handle. Call out to Him and ask God to help you let go of those hurts weighing you down. It may not happen overnight, but as you continue to seek Him and pray for the one who has wronged you, you'll begin to see a miracle of change taking place, and will be set free. Blessings,