“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. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” Colossians 3:12-14
Forgiveness can feel like a battle. We know we are called to forgive, but the hurt, the anger, and the memories are all so fresh in our minds. We want to show love, but only bitter feelings rise in our hearts when we look at the person who wounded us.
The biggest hurtle to pass in forgiveness is our feelings. When trying to forgive, we often wait and look for a bubbly feeling to overcome us to get us past the hurt and bitterness. However, those feelings are not always going to come. And people aren’t always going to change. Some people may continue to hurt us and never repent of their ways. If we wait for our feelings or the other person to change, we may never come to a place of forgiveness.
Our forgiveness needs to be rooted in something better, something deeper than our fickle feelings or a sinful human being. Our forgiveness needs to be rooted in the Gospel. We forgive in our hearts, not because we feel like it, because enough time has passed, or because we have seen a complete change in the other person. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us. We forgive because we were forgiven a much greater debt than any other person could ever owe us. We forgive because we were shown abundant grace when we did not deserve it.
When we battle against the memories, the pain, and the bitterness of sins committed against us, our job is not to wait for a change in our feelings or the other person. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves, and let that fuel us to show grace even in the greatest hurt we feel.
God, thank you for the immense, incomprehensive grace you have shown me. Thank you for forgiving me, for saving me from eternal condemnation, even though you knew I would still continue to sin against you as a believer. Thank you for granting me eternal life despite my rebellion. Thank you for loving me when I did not love you. Help me to have the same love and compassion for those who have hurt me. Help me to show them the same grace and forgiveness you continually show me. Amen.
If you are struggling to forgive someone, spend some time in Matthew 18:21-35. Read it, meditate on it, study it, and pray through it today.