… is that it’s uncomfortable to give to those who have wronged/hurt you.
When it comes to people that have wronged me, almost destroyed me, and have earned themselves every reason for me to hate them, it gets difficult to forgive.
Although I was brought up in a Christian church, I wasn’t exactly taught the biblical approach for forgiveness (go figure). Many self-proclaimed Christians who talked openly about following God had their own interpretations of forgiveness that I came to realize weren’t always biblical.
Strife, gossip, meddling, and blame-shifting seemed to be the norm, even among followers of God. I often wondered if this truly was the way God wanted us to treat one another, but eventually came to settle with the common mindset that forgiveness needed to be earned, not given generously.
Part of this also had to do with the distorted teaching that forgiveness meant one should leave themselves open for abuse or mistreatment.
Never did I really hear a balanced message about forgiveness setting the offended party free from bitterness, resentment, and hatred, yet also that forgiveness didn’t always have to lead to reconciliation if there was no sign of remorse or change from the offending party.
There even seemed to be a large group of people who thought that forgiveness meant one should be reconciled to abusers; I came to find out that many families would go as far as take the side of, let’s say for example, the favorite family uncle who sexually abuses his niece, blame the niece for “seducing/tempting” the uncle to sin, and then treat the actual victim as the bad guy.
All these distorted teachings of what forgiveness is or isn’t eventually caught up to me.
Even when I thought I’d forgiven people, I didn’t realize that I had bitterness and resentment growing in my heart. There were times that I failed to set proper boundaries with others who I knew wouldn’t change. And other times I caught myself slipping into the old myth that forgiveness needed to be deserved before it could be given.
As I go back to the Bible and study Jesus’s character and behavior towards his enemies, I realize that Jesus never withheld forgiveness even when he was nailed to the cross. Jesus had every right to withhold forgiveness since he’d never sinned and was being treated wrongfully… but he didn’t.
“Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
If Jesus, who was and is perfect, forgave his enemies, even when they were openly mocking & hurting him, then what did this mean for me?
It gets easy as times to forget about the many things God has forgiven me for; It gets easy to forget about where I once was once upon a time before God rescued me…
…and because of this, it gets easy to point out the flaws and mistakes of others, think myself better than them, and forget that I still desperately need God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness even after all of these positive changes that have taken place in my life.
When I get hurt by people that I care about, my natural instinct is to pout and feel like a victim. I desperately desire to cry, point the finger, and have people tell me anything that would stroke my bruised ego, until I remember the lessons of Jesus and the way he approached his enemies.
““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
This is about the worst thing I could have ever read in my walk with God… because my desire to be right, to hold onto bitterness and pain, and to feel sorry for myself is challenged to the point where I know I have to make a choice- do it God’s way or my way.
I know that doing it my way will not work, and I have years of torment and anger to prove it.
Desiring to avenge myself, to get even, and to prove that I shouldn’t be messed with might have made me have a sense of triumph… but it would only last me a moment.
Note: in no way does this mean I have to become someone else’s doormat. In no way does it also mean that people should be allowed to walk away if their business or actions are hurting others. God has shown me that while he is a God of forgiveness, mercy, and love, he is also a God of justice, and desires for us to set healthy boundaries with others if they’re consistently hurting us.
Only when I remember all that God has forgiven me for, even though I didn’t and still don’t deserve it, I begin to understand why I am also called to forgive others.
Even if reconciliation to the offending party isn’t a wise move, I can still pray for them, ask God to take care of the matter, and continue enjoying life.
I’m truly grateful to God for providing freedom and joy through forgiveness. And I’m grateful for the forgiveness and mercy he’s shown me. Without it, my life wouldn’t be where it is today.
Thanks for reading!