19 We love because He first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21 ESV)
“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend,” writes William Blake, English poet, b. 1757. The deeper the hurt, the harder it is to forgive.
Christian author Tony Campolo tells the following story about unforgiveness:
While he was preaching at a church, Pastor Campolo noticed an elderly woman seated on the left front pew with a mean expression on her face. As he turned to the pew on the right, he saw another old woman with the same resentful expression on her face. This woman looked very much like the woman on the left pew.
After the service Campolo asked one of the deacons about the two mean-looking women. The deacon said they were sisters. Although they lived in the same house neither one was willing to take the first step, reach out to the other, and ask for forgiveness. What started as a little disagreement had built a thick wall between the two sisters that impacted their relationship for the past 25 years (Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story, c.2000).
From the time we were formed in our mother’s womb we have been at enmity with God. The good news is that God had a plan for reconciliation. He took the first step to reconcile us to Himself. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). When through faith in Christ we ask God to forgive us for our wrong doings and sins of omission, God forgives us.
Having received God’s forgiveness we can ask that God give us the grace and power to forgive those who have offended us. When the hurt is very deep, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us let go of the bitterness and heal the wound in our heart.
The pandemic already brings us so many physical hardships. There is no need to add the emotional burden of carrying anger in our heart by not forgiving. “The harsh truth is that you’re actually causing yourself more pain by holding on to the anger, and the person that you wish not to forgive has the subconscious power to control you,” writes Kate Megase, psychotherapist in “Unforgiveness and Your Health”, Counseling Directory, 2017.
But the bottom line is that out of His love for us the Lord Jesus forgives us our sins. And because we love Him, we obey Him and follow His example of forgiving others.
What have you found helpful in forgiving those who have offended you?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving me my own sins and shortcomings. Heal the wound and ease the pain that I may carry in my heart right now. Help me to develop a forgiving heart in my relationships with others. In Your Name I ask. Amen.