Focus: Forgiving Others
Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
As a child, I remember being told, “Tell your sister you’re sorry,” to which, I would reluctantly reply, “Sorrrry.” Often, I didn’t think I was the one who had done something wrong—and I viewed apologizing as an obligation.
When I was younger, it seemed like apologizing was mainly done for the benefit of the person I was apologizing to—so that they would feel better. And it wasn’t always easy to apologize. I don’t remember feeling better after I apologized during that time of my life. Most of the time, apologizing involved a loss of dignity. Having to admit we are wrong is humbling.
It’s common for young children to think they’re right most of the time. It’s hard to be told you’re wrong and it’s hard to have to apologize. It’s even harder to have to tell someone you were wrong when you don’t think you were. Some of those things don’t change very much as we grow older.
Sometimes I was the one who was apologized to. I remember not always feeling like I wanted to forgive the other person. It didn’t seem fair to me that they should be able to say they were sorry and get off the hook that easily. A simple apology didn’t seem adequate when harm had been done or pain was caused. Many times, I held a grudge.
As we become more acquainted with scripture and the principles of forgiveness, some sobering news is revealed. We begin to understand that forgiving someone is tied to our own ability to receive forgiveness from our heavenly Father. Once we have that information, everything changes. We are faced with the fact that ‘forgiving’ is no longer optional if we hope to gain ‘forgiveness’ for our own wrong doing.
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In recovery, we are encouraged do an ongoing fearless and searching moral inventory. In addition, we should be willing to make a list of the people who we have wronged, and make a serious attempt to apologize. Hopefully, in this process, the people we have wronged will be kind enough to accept our apology.
The purpose of pursuing the path of recovery is so that healing will take place in our heart and mind. We must not only be willing to apologize to those we have wronged, but also be willing to forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiving others is a critical issue, if we want to continue moving forward.
Sometimes forgiving others is just as difficult as apologizing. A part of us may not want to let go of resentment, bitterness, anger, and pride. Often, it’s a matter of principle that has kept us from apologizing—or forgiving someone, when there was ‘wrong’ on both sides. Someone has to make the first move, and neither one wants to ‘go first’.
Frequently, when one person has the courage to initiate the process—the other person admits their wrong also. Whether the other person takes responsibility for their part, or not—the person who offered their own apology and/or forgiveness stands clear.
When we refuse to forgive someone, we have taken a grave responsibility into our own hands. By not being willing to forgive, we have placed ourselves in the position of not being forgiven by God.
Once again, the Golden Rule comes into play. ‘Do unto others, as you would have done unto you’ also applies to ‘forgiveness’. In other words, ‘Forgive others, as you would like to be forgiven yourself.’
I don’t want to be the one to say that a person would go to hell if they didn’t forgive someone, but the Word of God makes no mistake in plainly stating that if we don’t forgive—we will not be forgiven by God.
Is it time to rethink some of the grudges you may be holding onto? Is it time to forgive those who may have deeply offended you whether it was recently, or long ago?
God isn’t the one who is holding back. He stands willing, able, and ready to forgive us—it is we, who must put aside our resentment, bitterness, anger, and pride and make the move. Once we are willing—God will give us the help we need to follow through.
Declaration: I will find new strength by laying down my resentment, bitterness, anger, and pride toward people who have offended me. I will take the bold step of forgiving those who have wronged me, no matter how humiliating it might be. I understand that my ability to be forgiven by God is at stake if I don’t take action and let go of the grudges I have held in my heart.
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