Ever since there is offense, there is a need to forgive. We cannot demand forgiveness, nor can we expect it from anyone, but here is what an unforgiving attitude accomplishes: absolutely nothing. If anything, not forgiving a person makes a bad situation worse.
Everyone gets hurt at some point, which is why we all need to learn how to deal with pain. In medical terms, a festered wound can cause blood poisoning. An unforgiving heart has the power to poison our life in the same way a festering wound poisons our body. Not forgiving a person is really not a healthy option for us. We hurt ourselves the most if we refrain from doing so.
Forgiveness does not necessarily mean we have to let the person who hurt us back into our lives. The process of forgiveness is no one-size-fits-all approach. While it is big of us to say the three words: “I forgive you”, we know there is a lot more to it. Sometimes the person who hurt us never comes to apologize. Sometimes the person who hurt us is dead. Sometimes we even have a hard time forgiving ourselves. That is why we cannot depend on human beings for forgiveness. We need divine intervention.
Checks and balances only work for bank accounts, not for people. We do not arrive at forgiveness by inflicting as much pain as was dished out to us. The freedom associated with forgiveness lies in the power of letting go and this very act will start the healing process.
Jesus was hurt beyond repair on the cross. A lot of resentment and ill will brought Him there. Even though He was physically nailed to a tree, internally He was free. His mind was unclouded by anger. He forgave everyone involved and that includes us. “What do you mean?” you may ask. “I wasn’t there when it happened. I did not kill Jesus. He does not have to forgive me for a crime I haven’t committed.” While this is true – historically speaking we were not present when Jesus was killed – still the event of the cross addresses all of humanity. Jesus died for the forgiveness of all sins, which is wonderful news because we are all in need of forgiveness at some point in our lives.
Extending forgiveness is every bit as difficult as obtaining it – because pain hurts; it seems we best deal with past hurts on the road to compassion. Jesus has traveled this very road; in fact He represents the road map to forgiveness. He will help us sort through our issues and get past our anger. When we trust in Jesus we experience what freedom means. No longer bound by past hurt, we have the opportunity to mature into kind human beings.