“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6: 14-15
Believe it or not, the concept of forgiveness is very simple. Forgiveness is letting go of your anger, bitterness, sense of justice and desire for revenge. It’s giving the issue to God and letting Him deal with it – just let it go.
In theory, forgiveness is so basic that even a child can understand it, but once emotions get involved, everything becomes more difficult. Then forgiveness requires trusting in God’s providence, in God’s justice, and that He’s actually paying attention to the situation. And this is where the battle begins. You see, our instinct is to trust ourselves rather than God. We fear that if we give control to God, He might not do what we are sure needs to be done. So, we hold tight to our anger and our lack of forgiveness. We want to be sure the bad guys get their due – that the jerks always pay.
Knowing that we would struggle with forgiveness, Jesus was pretty clear in the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew chapter 6. It’s simple: If you want forgiveness from God, then forgive others. It’s the foundation of the Christian faith that everyone needs forgiveness. When we aren’t willing to forgive others and recognize how seriously every man, woman and child needs forgiveness – then we won’t experience it ourselves.
Everyone needs forgiveness because we were born with a sinful nature. All of us willingly follow that nature from one sin to another. We all mess up at one time or another, so we all need forgiveness. It’s with that in mind that we make the choice to forgive others – just like Christ forgave us.