“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14
Have you ever noticed the presence of that little two-letter word in the Lord’s prayer? It says “And forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Did you catch that? The word “as” implies that we cannot be forgiven until we offer that same forgiveness to others. In case we miss the “as,” Jesus emphasizes the point in the next verse: “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15)
Forgiving someone who has treated you poorly, who has said unkind things about you, who has maybe even broken up your family, is incredibly difficult. Just to be clear, forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately or ever interact with them in the same way. It definitely doesn’t mean that the consequences are magically erased and you’ll always go back into the same kind of relationship with that person. Rather, forgiveness means letting go of the bitterness that un-forgiveness can breed; it means leaving the the final judgement up to God. Another way to think of un-forgiveness and bitterness is as a poison that you or I drink, while hoping the guilty party dies.
In many circumstances, forgiveness truly takes Godly intervention, especially towards someone who has inflicted deep wounds and lasting scars. And yet, God commands us to forgive one another. Thankfully, God would never issue a command without also equipping us with the ability to follow through.
Are you struggling with forgiveness? Take a moment today, to ask God for the strength to forgive that person who hurt you. Not only will God give you the power to do so, but He will also empower you supernaturally to love them, even though you hate what they did.
Who do you need to forgive? Ask God to give you the strength to let go of past hurt, pain, and bitterness in order to embrace the cleansing freedom His forgiveness offers.