Has anyone ever hurt you? A harsh word, action, intentional or not, we’ve all been hurt. My trust was betrayed once by someone close to me in a manipulation to get money. It was the who that hurt, not the amount of money. Why should I forgive them?
Why should you forgive whoever hurt you?
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18: 21-22
Why should you forgive someone that many times? Years ago, a study was done by the National Comorbidity Study where they asked thousands of people about holding grudges. 6,500 answered back and they checked the medical history of those people. There were higher rates of heart problems, high blood pressure, ulcers, headaches, and more in comparison with those who did not tend to hold grudges. On top of that, they were happier than those who did.
I’ve held grudges and it’s something I watch for in me. Have you met a bitter person? So hardened and negative that if you tell them good morning they retort, ‘what’s so good about it?’ Chronically miserable, they live in the past. If someone mentions the name of a person you hate, does bitterness or anger well up inside? It can really affect our relationships. No one wants to be around bitter people besides other bitter people.
That is just the physical and emotional side effects. There are eternal ones as well. In Matthew 18: 23-35, Jesus tells a parable about an unforgiving debtor. In contemporary terms, it’s like this: you spend too much and rack up massive amounts of credit card debt on top of loans from the bank. Now it is all due and you are going to lose everything.
The car you drive.
The house you live in.
In fact, you are going to be homeless; your entire family will not have a place to stay.
Let that sink in.
Last minute, a letter comes in the mail from the bank. Your hands are shaking as you nervously open it. Slowly unfolding the pages, you start to read. The letter falls to floor as shock hits you like a punch to the gut. Picking it up you read again…”the debt is hereby cancelled.”
You’re not losing everything! Overjoyed, you take your spouse out to eat to celebrate. When you arrive at the restaurant, you see someone who owes you money eating there.
How can they be eating out when they owe you money!?
You stomp over to their table and let them have it. How dare they go out when they owe you! You demand the 50$ from them right now.
You don’t realize the bank president is in the same restaurant. The outburst has caught her attention and she is watching you. She had heard of your plight, seeing you in the bank and showed you mercy. Now she is reconsidering it.
As you get louder, she quietly makes up her mind.
Two days later, you’re handed an eviction notice. You stare as a tow truck takes your car away. Why!? What did you do to deserve this?
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Forgiving a loan is like forgiving a wrong or a sin against you. A debt is owed and you decided not to collect. It isn’t like accepting an apology from your little sister because mom said you had to.
Still don’t want to forgive? Remember every wrong thing you ever did in your life. Every time you hurt someone. In the scope of all that, how does that one wrong stack up against the weight of all your wrongs.
That full weight bearing on you is all against one person, God. Whatever wrong done in and to his creation is a sin against him. Wouldn’t you want forgiveness? Ask him for it. If you have, look at this verse:
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7: 47
The weight that you were bearing is gone now. How should you feel? You were this and now you are that.
One Sunday morning, Pastor Rod closed the service with people from Celebrate Recovery walking across the platform holding signs. On the screens, it showed what they were: sex addict, alcoholic, criminal, dysfunctional family, etc. The cards they had now showed what they were now; loving husband, sober, pardoned, happy family, and so on. They were forgiven and were overjoyed and gracious.
I thought back, considering the weight of it all that I had to carry before. I had stolen, manipulated, hated, had been unmercifully cruel and arrogant just for starters. I had been selfish and put no one else before me, not even my wife.
And I was upset over a lie?
Why should I forgive?
Because I had been forgiven.