Why Must I End Up Forgiving Others?
Let's Talk About Our Sins First
Sin prevents us from having a relationship with God and gaining eternal life on our own. Sin cannot go unpunished by God because He is just. By sending a perfect human sacrifice, Jesus, as a propitiation for our sins, God redeemed us and fixed our brokenness.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Rom. 5:8 ESV
Jesus took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross and rose from the grave three days later. He purifies us of our sins. But as long as we continue to live in our mortal bodies, we are bound to sin since our old sinful nature battles our new spiritual nature (cf. Rom. 7:15-20).
As believers, God has also provided a way to seek forgiveness when we sin. Our Great High Priest in heaven, Jesus Christ, mediates on our behalf when we confess our sins and pray for forgivenss.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 Jn. 1:9
Forgive to Be Forgiven
Just as God has forgiven you, He commands you to have a spirit of forgiveness against those who hurt or harm you.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.- Mt. 6:14-15
If we want God to forgive us, we must genuinely forgive others. It's not an option, it's a command. And God wouldn’t tell us to do something if we couldn’t do it.
Paul calls us to bear with one another:
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
Why Should I Forgive?
Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did was okay. However, holding on to hostility or resentment only hinders us and steals our peace. We suffer emotional pain. When we forgive and release all the bitterness and anger that comes with it, we are free to live and serve with true peace and joy.
Whether or not someone asks for forgiveness, forgiveness must be immediate. It's not about brushing things under the rug and saying that what the other person did or said was okay. Also, forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting what happened. Healing may take time, depending on the situation.
How do we achieve this "letting go," which can seem impossible? Our emotions can overwhelm us with anger and pain even when we do not want them to. Also, the devil is an expert at getting a foothold when we have chosen to forgive but the wound is still sensitive. Don't replay the offense over and over; let go of the pain and determine to move forward. This is where prayer is essential as on our own we are tempted to wander back to unforgiveness.
Let us pray.
Please forgive my trespasses and my deliberate choice to sin against you. Forgive me for choosing the shortcut to sin over standing firm against temptation. Help me to forgive those who hurt me. Help me to let go of the unforgiveness and pain they have caused. Hold me, and comfort me while I learn to forgive them.
In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.