I Forgive You. These are just three words, but they can be the hardest for us to say. I think it could be our human nature interfering again. As long as we stay mad or hurt, we still have the option of seeking revenge, or getting even. It’s like we tuck that anger into a coat pocket and carry it around, just waiting for the right time to bring it out.
I have known people who live their life just waiting to get revenge. It’s like it is a game to them. They believe in the idiom “what goes around, comes around”. They are waiting for that person to get what they deserve. Forgive them? No way.
The Bible is clear that we shouldn’t seek revenge. Revenge isn’t ours, it belongs to God. Matthew 5:38-42 tells us we shouldn’t seek an ‘eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth’. If someone slaps us on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
Romans 12:18-19 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord”. God’s wrath will be much, much greater than any revenge we could inflict on someone.
Our Father forgives us when we sin. When we refuse to forgive others, we deny that we are sinners, in need of God’s forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us “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”. Think about that for a minute. Our Father will not forgive our sins, if we don’t forgive others.
In the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor in Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Jesus “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times”. Seventy-seven times. Many of us can’t forgive someone once, much less seventy-seven.
When our Savior was being hung on a cross to die for our sins, Jesus asked forgiveness for his murderers. In Luke 23:34, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. Jesus asked forgiveness for his murderers, and we can’t forgive someone who cuts us off in traffic.
I recall seeing in the news, more than once, family members forgiving a person who murdered their loved one. How in the world can someone do that? It comes from us accepting God’s grace and mercy. When we have repented and accepted His grace and mercy, we are able to give that to others.
Are their people in your life you should forgive? Perhaps a co-worker, who spread gossip about you. Or maybe it is a family member who needs your forgiveness. It seems the ones who hurt us the deepest are the ones we love the deepest. Angry words can tear families apart. A spouse may say something, and the more you think about it, the deeper the hurt becomes.
We are supposed to forgive others, because God tells us we should. However, there is a peace that comes with forgiving someone who has hurt us or sinned against us. We don’t have to worry about getting revenge, God’s going to do that. We just need to forgive them. I’m not saying this will be easy, but when we pray and ask God to help us, anything is possible. We can forgive, with God’s help. We no longer carry around the weight of that anger. That burden is lifted and we are free to move on and leave that hurt behind us. When we say those three words, I Forgive You.