Do you ever find yourself saying, “Man, I just can't let what he did to me go...”? I think we all have that someone who did something to us that we just can’t seem to forgive and forget. For some of us, it may be many someones. For others, it may be yourself, not being able to move past something you did or keep doing that you think is unforgivable. I think it is just part of our nature to carry that resentment no matter how hard we try not to. I confess that I still have have some things that some people did to me stuck in my brain and they can still make me upset. And I also have some things that I find it hard to ask God for forgiveness for. Have I truly forgiven them if that is the case? Have I truly forgiven myself? I hate to say it but I don't think so if it keeps coming back.
Scripture often discusses forgiveness. In fact, it is the central message of salvation: God has forgiven our sins through the sacrifice of His son Jesus so that we might have eternal life. So what is scriptural forgiveness? Colossian 3:13 states, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”. Forgiveness does not seem to come easy. Our natural instincts seem to kick into self-preservation mode when we feel we are wronged and it doesn’t seem that we have an overabundance of mercy in these situations. If we are to truly call ourselves Christians, forgiveness must be a choice we make motivated by our obedience to God and His desire for us to forgive. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith so that we may “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is God that finally determines justice so we must trust God in faith to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete. God states in scripture that He will respond to our desire to please Him when we choose to forgive (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 10:17, Psalm 103:12). While we may not always understand or see it, He completes this work in His time until the work of forgiveness is done in our hearts.
Peter posed a question to Jesus in Matthew 18:21-22; “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” We need to always be forgiving of ourselves and others no matter what we might feel otherwise. Give your grievances to God and let Him do His work in you and you can’t go wrong.