Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
When I was a young teen, I had a small off-white figurine. It was hard plastic, stood about 4 inches and was filled with sand to weight it down. I believe it was a Precious Moments, but I could be mistaken on that. The thing I remember clearly were the words printed on it. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
As I kid, I thought that was a great slogan. It seemed so wise and true and mature.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend and the saying came up: “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.” That conversation caused me to think of that figurine from 45 years ago.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” But does it?
I was taught you should apologize when you have done something wrong. If you have hurt someone, you should do everything in your power to fix it. My mom even told me once that “the person in the right, should be the one to apologize first.” She is a wise one, my mom.
With the apology comes forgiveness. Or at least should. That certainly is the expectation.
I hurt someone many years ago. My words and actions were thoughtless and careless. I knew I had caused pain and I knew I needed to apologize for what had happened between us. I will never forget this person’s response; “I’m not ready to forgive you.”
The world tells us that it’s okay not to forgive. The world says it’s a very personal thing and not a requirement for a whole and happy life. (wiselifetherapy.com)
The world says it’s okay not to forgive others because sometimes it’s not about the other person. Sometimes it’s about you, and that’s the way it should be. (the odysseyonline.com)
But what does the Bible say?
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4 ESV
Really? Did Luke just say I need to forgive seven times in a day if asked and if needed? By the same offender?!
What did Jesus say about forgiveness?
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 ESV
The King James Version says, “seventy times seven.”
Four Hundred Ninety times?! Wait a minute! That’s a lot of times. In other words, as often as it takes. As often as it is needed…forgive.
In the wise and loving words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
Paul describes a very necessary action, or series of actions, in Ephesians 4:31-32. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” - ESV
Only the strong can forgive. But where does our strength come from?
The Lord is my strength – Psalm 28:7
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. - Ephesians 6:10
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
Have you been wronged? Forgive. Have you been hurt? Forgive. Have you been asked for forgiveness? Grant it. Do you want true inner peace and healing? Forgive.
“Forgiveness is such an enriching substance that it is so hard to make real progress without it. Fundamentally, our ego also depends on it. If we want to make things right we have to let go. Forgiveness also emanates from our spirituality and if we continue holding on to the past misdeeds of ourselves, or of others, we will dent our self-esteem and scar the best image of who we can be.
The truth is that there is already enough hatred, pain and persecution. It is really vain to continue building upon what is negative and damaging. Letting yourself radiate in love and learning to let go could be the best decision you can ever make.
Just like the gift of sunshine or rainfall, forgiveness is a gift we can give to ourselves. This all stems from understanding our spirituality and knowing that we are designed to be happy and never be held bound of anything. We are designed to be free and rise above situations. You cannot take full advantage of this gift of forgiveness unless you show willingness of letting go. You have to embrace this gift and take charge of your life.” – Lifehack by Casey Imafidon
So, what happens when you have asked for forgiveness, and it has not been granted you? That is a tough pill to swallow. I would suggest you give yourself the gift of forgiveness anyway. We cannot force others to forgive us. But we can take it to God. Ask Him to forgive us; ask Him to soften hearts; ask Him to lead.
And what if you are the one refusing to forgive? Stop holding that grudge.
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” ― Criss Jami, Salomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile
Stop feeling that resentment. As Casey mentioned above, we are designed to be happy and never be held bound of anything, including the spirit of unforgiveness. We must let go and we must embrace love and life.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
Take it to God. Ask for help if help is needed. The bottom line is we are commanded by God to forgive.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 ESV
It appears to be a requirement. I don’t know about you, but I desperately need God’s forgiveness in my life.
1 John 1: 9 tells us He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins when we ask. God forgives. God does not hold grudges; He forgives as many times as we ask. Let’s be imitators of that kind of love.
“Put on…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13 ESV