Why Do We Have To Forgive?
The following are lyrics from the song “Forgiveness” which aptly describe the feeling of the offended person:
“It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don't deserve
It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real…”
What is forgiveness?
From Wikipedia: “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense and overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance (however justified it might be).”
There are those who believe that forgiveness means replacing the negative emotions with positive feelings so we can get to the point where we can wish the offender well.
Why Do We Have To Forgive Those Who Have Offended Us?
Here are 4 reasons why we need to forgive:
1. Forgiveness Is From God
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
The Christian faith had always been about forgiveness. Jesus preached the powerful ministry of forgiveness. He died on the cross so all our sins would be forgiven.
Jesus embodied the concept of forgiveness. Until the time He was dying on the cross, He was asking the Father to “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
2. Forgiveness Reflects God's Character
1 John 2:6
“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
As God’s people, we are forgivers. That is what sets us apart from other people. Most people are offenders, and while some believers may still be offensive, nevertheless, one of the great traits of the people of God is that we are forgivers.
When we forgive, we reflect the glorious character of God. The servant reflects the character of his master, the student reflects the character of his teacher.
3. Forgiveness Sets People Free
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Forgiving sets the offender free from our anger and resentment. It also sets the offended free from condemnation.
We forgive to set free the person who has offended us, and at the same time, we are also free and forgiven by our Father. The good thing that we did to the other person does not only benefit him but also us, who have given forgiveness.
Forgiving also sets us free from our own ill-feelings. It is not easy to keep a grudge, anger, hatred, or resentment because these negative emotions destroy us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Forgiving earns forgiveness. Non-forgiveness equates with self-condemnation because when you do not forgive, you never receive forgiveness from God.
4. Forgiveness Repairs & Restores Broken Relationships.
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”
Due to man’s sinful nature, we can expect that man can hurt, offend, or cause trouble for others. People hurt and offend their spouses, children, family members, friends, even co-workers.
When people hurt us, we are offended, we carry a grudge, we resent them. If the offense is something we can no longer tolerate, we keep our distance, and most of the time, relationships are destroyed.
But what do we do when the offenders are our own family, our spouse, our children? We can’t just stay away from them. That is where forgiveness comes in.
We find couples who celebrate their 25th, 50th wedding anniversaries, and we wonder what has kept them together for so long. Is the wife perfect or is the husband faultless?
No, because nobody is perfect. They forgive each other’s imperfections. When one spouse hurt the other, the offended partner forgives.
We cannot go through life without being offended, and when we do not forgive, we might end up alone, separated, and isolated. God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” That is why we need to forgive.
How do we get empowered to forgive?
Forgiving is difficult, that is why we have to strive to overcome the natural tendencies of man. How do we do that?
1. Do Not Be Too Proud
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
Let us be humble. If we do not think so highly of ourselves, we might soon discover that we are not that special or entitled enough to resent everyone who has not given us the special attention that we seek and expect.
Most offenses come from bruised ego. The less pride the more power not to take offense. The less pride, the more power to forgive.
2. Do Not Be Overly Sensitive
When people talk, it’s not always about us. When they say something we don’t like, it is not meant for us. Sometimes, we take offense at the slightest thing, we put meaning on everything we hear or see, and we are offended.
People who are easily offended by what other people do or not do are selfish. They think it’s always about them.
To become less sensitive, we have to admit that people can hurt, offend, or neglect us so let’s be ready for it, especially when they are the people who are close to us.
When we understand that the people close to us can hurt us, then the shock factor is minimized and forgiveness may come easily.
3. Do Not Expect Too Much
We keep hearing people say, “Lower your expectations. Don’t go into any relationship with too much expectation.”
Two people who are so much in love usually get into matrimony with a “Romeo-and-Juliet” expectations, that the “love of my life will somehow die for me.”
What happens when husband finds another love of his life? There is no pain worse than being betrayed by the man you have expected to love and protect you. The pain is unbearable, the offense is unforgivable because you did not see it coming.
When your expectations are high, the betrayal makes your world come crashing down with pain so deep it can turn your love into hatred, and forgiveness is so hard to give.
When you lower your expectations, you can enjoy the moment that you are together but all the while you know that someday, somehow, Romeo may hurt, offend, or neglect you. When that time comes, you are not shocked beyond belief. You understand that he is human and is bound to fall from grace, then maybe, beyond the pain, forgiveness may be easier to give.
4. Know Yourself
You have your own imperfections, your own offenses against God, and when you realize that, you will be enlightened to be forgiving. When we fully understand ourselves, we can then understand others because we are all the same human after all.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Most of us see the shortcomings of others while we are blind to ours. We need to see our own faults before we try to correct the faults of others.
When we get to know ourselves, it is not to justify our mistakes but to understand when others make mistakes against us.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
© 2020 Norma