How Do We Forgive?

Since it is such a hard task, forgiveness is often put aside by Christians. It’s almost as awkward of a sermon as tithing… We like to go about our day to day lives, claiming to seek christ in all we do, yet most of us harbor a lot of anger and hate toward others. This past Sunday, Ryan read the story of the Unforgiving Servant. His master grants him mercy and forgives his debt, but he turns around and imprisons his fellow servant for not paying their debts to him. The good christian answer is, “How could he do that? I would never do that.” But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we are all quick to get angry and hold grudges against those who hurt us, no matter how good we are at hiding it. Ryan listed three things not to do when facing a conflict or pain.

  1. Don’t avoid the conflict.

This is especially hard to stomach for Christians. We are taught to “turn the other cheek” and it’s often misinterpreted as avoiding the pain altogether. If we’re going to learn to forgive, we have to first admit that we have been hurt.

  1. Becoming a “Flighter”

This is similar to avoiding the conflict, because we leave situations unfinished and unresolved. Even if someone is no longer alive, we can still find closure and peace by forgiving.

  1. Becoming the aggressor

Revenge is often our first resort when we are hurt. We use others as an outlet for our pain, and we look to inflict the same pain on someone else. This is not the model of Christ, and will never be the way to truly resolve a conflict. Ryan referenced Matthew 18, Mark 11:25-26 and Micah 6:1-8 that says Jesus commands us to forgive. It’s not something we can put off because it’s difficult. Jesus died to atone for our sins, and he commands us to live in his image, showing forgiveness to people that don’t always deserve it. Ryan also referenced 1 Timothy 1:12 and how Paul never gave up on the people who kept beating him, because he saw the bigger picture. He could have easily went to another town and tried to share the gospel with people who didn’t beat him or imprison him, but that’s not what he did. What better way to show someone Gospel living than to forgive those that hurt us. This same idea should be what we base our lives on. In our day to day lives, we should be striving to reach people for the Kingdom of God. There is so much power in our testimonies when we can share that we forgive others, even when we don’t want to, because God commanded us to. Ryan went on to list the things that forgiveness is often misinterpreted as. It is Not:

  • Neglecting Justice
  • Reconciliation
  • Ceasing to Feel the Pain
  • Trusting
  • Waiting on an apology
  • A One-Time Event
  • Denying a Wrong-Doing

Go watch Ryan’s Week 2 sermon for more elaboration on these points. So, if forgiveness is not these things, then what is it? It is simply fixing our eyes on Jesus. When we, like Paul, have Christ as our focal point, we strive to show others the same mercy and forgiveness that Jesus showed to us. Even though it’s hard, and most of the time it’s something that we don’t want to do, we are called to forgive. We should see the bigger picture, and that to forgive  changes us from the inside, growing us to be more and more like Christ. Blessings ! -Kinley Hurt