I’m very fortunate in not ever having dealt with too many big situations where someone has come against me heavily or done something dreadful to someone I love, to be faced with the concept of then having to forgive them, but I have had enough small situations to know how tough it can be sometimes to consider forgiving the person while they still seemingly hold a grudge against me for no obvious reason. However, I seem to have had the lesson brought to my attention a lot lately and figured it worth sharing the important aspects with you. Many here will no doubt know the following, and some may know it way more intimately than me, but I’m here primarily for those who aren’t Christians to hear it, and for those who are, to be reminded of it if they’re going through a situation that requires it to be undertaken.
When someone hurts you badly enough, your first primal instinct may well be to shut down, and try and deal with the hurt alone. You may well try and keep occupied to distance yourself from the seething pot of anger and/or resentment lurking deep within, but eventually, try as you might, you will at some point come to the recognition that you outright resent the injuring party or indeed perhaps hate them to the point where you want to see them suffer as much as you have by their actions. Perhaps an understandable response for certain crimes committed against certain individuals, but one that if you take action on will ultimately lower your standards to that ranking the perpetrator of the “crime” whatever it may have been.
If anyone dared to suggest you should forgive the perpetrator you would baulk and maybe give all sorts of reasons for why you will “never” do so! That’s fine – IF you’re a person who doesn’t believe in God anyway, has no desire to go to heaven, and doesn’t much care about the other party either. But, if you’re someone who does accept there’s a God, that He alone has the right to mete out justice, you do want to go to heaven ultimately (whether you’ve accepted Jesus or not at this point) and you want God to forgive you for your own mistakes and errors in life, then it’s simple – you have NO choice BUT to forgive no matter how hard or how tough that may be for you. Good people don’t get into heaven – forgiven sinners do!
And the reason I say all of the above is because of what Jesus said Himself about this in the most famous prayer of all, which most non Christians (and perhaps many Christians too) would reel off without a second thought to what it’s actually saying. He says that we should ask God to “Forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us“!! Most people think that bit doesn’t really apply to them somehow in the context with which it is given. Yet you can have no plainer statement. If you don’t forgive others you won’t be forgiven yourself. And forgiveness isn’t something you can do piecemeal – you either do it fully or not at all – same as God doesn’t partly forgive you – He forgives you fully. And you also most likely will not be able to forgive someone for a major sin/crime against you, unless you look to Him to help you do it – those who think they’ve forgiven someone without involving God are deceived – for only He can provide true forgiveness in all aspects.
So I would just urge you, if you fall into the above categories, to please reconsider your stance where you have been severely wronged. Turn to God, first ask Him to help you to forgive the other party and when He has you will know He will fully forgive you for your wrongs against Him also. Forgiveness plays a huge part throughout scripture and Paul teaches on it constantly, so don’t make the mistake of only asking God to forgive you for your own sins if you know you’re not doing the same for someone else – as you do unto others, so it will be done unto you!!