Few will disagree with us if we say forgiveness is an extremely difficult thing. However, we must be aware that it is a choice, a willing act, to forgive or to hold back forgiveness from someone. Sure, we can’t always help how we feel and we may still experience feelings of anger towards the person who wronged us but to willingly harbor unforgiveness is to let bitterness take root and foster into something that will be incredibly hard for us to uproot later. We must choose instead, to be willing to forgive and ask God to help us with our emotions and the rest of what goes with the process. We can choose to act in the right manner and leave the rest to God.
Now, in regards to the offender, it is easier, indeed, to forgive someone who is repentant than someone who doesn’t even care they have wronged us, isn’t it? In this case, we should recognize by choosing to let go, we are giving up the opportunity for rage or malice to enter and take root. Sin is always looking for an opportunity to present itself and enter our lives. We see this in the story of Cain and Abel where God says to Cain in Genesis 4:7 “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” We must recognize the conviction and calling of the Holy Spirit whenever presented with the cravings of sin, otherwise, sin will master us instead of us mastering it.
Satan is a liar and has always been. Having this knowledge is to be informed and not ignorant of the methods and manipulations of Satan. In 2nd Corinthians 2, Paul urges the Corinthian church in his letter to forgive a repentant sinner. He says they should forgive “for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Here, Paul is urging for them to be united in Christ and not divided as Satan’s main aim is to twist God’s Word and bring division in the body of Christ. Satan wishes we would be quick to be offended and harbor unforgiveness thereby allowing division to eventually tear us apart. As the body of Christ, we are called to reaffirm our love to those who are repentant and also to restore them in love.
Ultimately, I would think the purpose of forgiveness is the same as it is for everything else God calls us to in Jesus Christ- and that is to become more like Him. He loved us first and forgave us first. Therefore, we are called to love and forgive in the same way. Another humbling thought is this: if we were to consider how much we have been forgiven, it would not even be a fraction of what we are required to forgive others for.
Do you find yourselves struggling to forgive others? How does learning these truths empower you to forgive others today?