When someone offends you, you get to decide your response to what the person did to you. Of course, forgiveness is easier said than done, and it can take a long time to be completely healed and free from the pain, but just because it’s hard does not mean it’s impossible.
Forgiveness is so important to us as Christians because what enabled us to become children of God, was God’s willingness to forgive us, of all our sins. Jesus paid for everything that we did and we will do wrong, on the cross. Forgiveness is a fundamental part of the gospel of Christ. You are a child of God today because God chose to forgive you, and He expects us to forgive others too!
“Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:32
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others your heavenly father will not forgive your sins” ~ Matthew 6:14-15
One thing that used to keep me from forgiving people, was the fact that I felt like I was letting them off the hook. I thought if I forgave them, then it would belittle how much they hurt me, but this is so far from the truth. When you forgive someone, you are not letting them off or saying what they did, did not hurt. Instead, you are freeing your self from the pain and letting God do His job, to be the one that disciplines and correct them.
God loves everyone, both the people who believe in Him and those who don’t. God does not want us to be a family who is constantly hurting each other and then walking away as if nothing happened, but he also does not want us to be consumed with bitterness and resentment. When we hurt each other, we hurt God. God knows that we will offend each other and there will be misunderstandings, but he wants us to be a family that can acknowledge and accept when we have hurt each other and go back to that person and address it and apologise. When we do this, we keep the love and mercy of God in and the devil out. Offences are one of the ways that the devil gets in and divides the people of God. This is because offences will produce bitterness, envy, jealousy and anger, all things that do not come from God. These are all the fruit of the flesh, and God does not want these things to stay in our hearts. Galatians 5:19-21. So, forgiveness is really about you and not the other person.
Going back to what I said about God disciplining us, I used to think that when a Christian annoyed me, or when someone prominent in the church offended me, that God wouldn’t do anything about it, because they’re a Christian and we’re all covered by grace. So, I used to stay mad at them, because I thought God wouldn’t do anything. However, that is not what the Bible teaches at all!
Hebrews 12:5 – 11 (NLT) says that God disciplines those He loves and punishes each one he accepts as his child. This means that as Christians we are assured to get corrected by God when we do something wrong. It doesn’t matter who the person is, or how important they are or whether they believe in God or not. The bible says that God disciplines those he loves, every person in the world falls into the category of people who are loved by God. Just in case you did not know, you are so loved by God. This means that whoever hurts you, God will correct them, and whoever you hurt God will correct you on that too. He doesn’t do this because he is mad or angry at us, but because He is a father and He wants to teach us how to be just like Him.
So, don’t think that God will not step in and defend you when someone mistreats you, because God will. Whether you see the fruit of God’s correct or not, just know He’s ion it. God may bring it to their attention, but that does not necessarily mean that they will always apologise. The choice to apologise is up to that person, God will not force us to do the right thing. However, you can take comfort in that fact that you are a child of God and God will always defend you. However, the bigger challenge is being able to accept correction when you hurt someone else. We have to be ready to say sorry and acknowledge our own shortcomings, just as much as we want the other person to acknowledge their own.
Jesus came to redeem us but he also brought the ministry of reconciliation, and sometimes we ignore that part of the gospel. We get right with God and we forget all about the people we have hurt and the pain we have caused. That is not okay, and it does not please God. God instructs us that when we remember someone has something against us, that we should leave our offering and go and be reconciled to that person. Matthew 5:23-24. Reconciliation is important to God. We need to be right with God, but we also need to be right with people. God also tells us that when someone has offended us, we should call them and tell them. Why? Because God loves unity within His people. He doesn’t want us as His children to be going through life hurt and wounded by what someone has done, especially when we can talk to them about it and deal with it. Matthew 18:15-17.
We have to be ready to forgive others knowing that God will deal with it, but we also have to be ready to go and apologise to someone we have wronged. Next time God asks you to apologise remember what it felt like when someone offended you and all you wanted was a genuine apology.
If you are struggling with forgiving someone just know that God doesn’t forget what people have done to you and how much it hurt you. However, He does want you to live in freedom and continue to abide in Him. This means giving the offence over to Him in prayer. Tell Him the truth of what the person did and how much it hurt you. Something that has helped me is to close my eyes while I’m praying and visualising myself before the throne of God, and handing all my pain and hurt over to God and in exchange, I receive His joy and peace. This is something that you might have to do every day, but keep doing it consistently and you could see a change and a decrease in the resentment in your heart.
Stay Blessed x