Jesus said, "...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."
Forgiveness is hard. Especially in a marriage tense with past troubles, tormented by fears of rejection, torn by suspicion and distrust. It is hard to forgive.
Forgiveness hurts. Especially when it must be extended to a person who doesn't deserve it, who hasn't earned it, who MAY even abuse it. It hurts to forgive.
Forgiveness costs. Especially because it requires us to release them instead of exacting vengeance; reaching out in love instead of reminding them of their failures. It costs to forgive...
Forgiveness takes place when the offended person lets the offendER go free. When we, by an act of the will, no longer hold that person responsible to make it right or restore what was lost. Forgiveness is the HARDEST thing you will EVER do.
But there are costs to unforgiveness too. You will cease to grow spiritually if you are unwilling to forgive. Your anger will consume you. People who once knew you for joy will begin to notice your bitterness. God cannot use bitter people – for bitterness is the ‘anti-grace’ of human life. Unforgiveness is UNLIKE God. And its presence will spread like a cancer in the Body of Christ.
Bitterness will render a person useless. The heart becomes hardened… the hurt becomes more important than God’s will. Bitterness shifts the focus of our prayers from GOD and GRACE to OURSELVES and REVENGE. Instead of reflecting the blessings of God, all people will see is our wound.
Though forgiveness is hard, grace demands it and God deserves it.
Ravensbruck was a Nazi concentration camp constructed to house Jewish women and children. Built in 1939, it closed in 1945 after some 130,000 women and children passed through its gates. Of that number, 100,000 died. It was the scene of so much brutality… injustice… and loss. The Nazi’s would stack the dead like cord-wood, like piles of garbage to be burned.
When the Nazi’s were defeated and the prisoners were liberated, officials tried to process the gruesome scene of hate and death. As they searched for things that might identify the dead, they found THIS prayer scribbled on a scrap of paper inside the pocket of a little boy’s coat.
“O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne BE THEIR FORGIVENESS.” (emphasis mine)
Do YOU have someone you need to forgive?