[Jesus said], “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.“Luke 6:37
We know Jesus told His followers to forgive each other.
But I think most of us have experienced a time when it felt like…
- The loss was too great.
- The abuse was too severe.
- The betrayal was too huge.
- The pain was too much.
A time when we felt like every hope and dream had been dashed and life had been changed forever.
Then, to top it off, the person who caused the pain has:
- spoken no regret.
- shown no remorse.
- and offered no apology.
So what now? How are we supposed to forgive when forgiving feels impossible?
Let’s look at 5 reasons the Lord told His followers to forgive—even when the loss and heartache are overwhelming.
5 Reasons to Forgive Even When It’s Hard
1. God forgives your past, present, and future.
When you and I truly realize all that God has forgiven in us . . . it becomes easier to forgive the people around us.
For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.Psalm 103:11–13
2. Forgiving heals us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness is carrying a spiritual and emotional burden God never intended us to carry.
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.” (Hopkins Medicine)
3. Forgiving blesses and strengthens relationships . . . helping us live together in community.
Forgiveness is not a guarantee that the relationship will be restored but without it . . . that door will be closed to even the possibility of recovery and renewal.
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.Ephesians 4:2–4
4. Forgiving heals our hurting hearts and frees us to live with peace and hope.
Hurting people have a tendency to hurt others. Forgiveness frees our hearts from projecting our past hurts onto our current and future relationships.
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health. Proverbs 15:30
5. Jesus commanded that His followers forgive.
And this is the most important reason of all . . . the One who gave His life to make it possible for us to be forgiven commanded that we forgive one another!
“Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you. Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.” Luke 6:37–38
A Prayer for the Strength to Forgive
Father, how can I begin to thank you for Your forgiveness and love. Your Word says that I was dead in my sin and You made me alive in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2) By His sacrifice, I have been set free. (John 8:36) I am forgiven. (Acts 13:38) And my sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)
You give me strength and courage. You promise to give me everything I need to forgive those who hurt me. You take my pain and give me peace that passes understanding. You heal my heart and fill me with hope. You assure me of Your love when I don’t feel lovable. You promise to make the impossible possible and that by Your grace, I have everything I need to trust and follow Your will . . . even forgiving when it is hard.
Lord, I give myself to You. I thank and praise You for Your unfailing love and forgiveness. Please give me a tender heart willing to forgive. Take me from victim to victory through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. In whose name I pray. Amen.
Forgiveness is rarely easy…
It’s especially hard when the person who caused the pain is someone close . . . someone we loved and trusted.
I get it. I’ve been there.
The pain was so deep it was hard to get out of bed. I’d been betrayed and rejected. All my hopes and dreams were turned upside down, and yes, forgiveness seemed impossible. It felt like forgiving would excuse what had happened and say that it didn’t matter.
But I started having headaches. My anxiety increased and I had trouble sleeping. I felt awful.
I knew God wanted me to forgive and let it go. He came to me with open hands and asked me to give Him all my pain and loss. He invited me to trust Him . . . to surrender everything, no holding back.
I wish I could tell you I obeyed Him immediately. I didn’t.
But thankfully, the Holy Spirit didn’t give up on me. He gave me the strength to make the impossible possible. He helped me forgive and gave me victory in Christ Jesus.
And I’m here to tell you . . . victory is better.
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