By Shane Kastler
Let's face the facts: experiencing hurt is a part of life. At one time or another everyone has felt the sting of being wronged, slighted, or scarred. Physical pain is bad enough, but the emotional turmoil of being hurt can often be even worse. You have been wronged. You have also wronged others. The first we readily accept, but the second we often fail to see.
Very rarely are disagreements 100 percent the fault of one party. Typically there is plenty of blame on both sides of an argument. Even if you didn't start the fight, you might not have responded in the way you should have. Regardless of who is to blame, turmoil means the absence of peace in your life. And peace is what we should long for. Peace with God and peace with each other. This is especially true for the “household of God.”
Simon Peter once asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother who has wronged him. Peter no doubt thought it would be remarkable of him to forgive “up to seven times.” When you think about it, by the seventh time you might get a little tired of being wronged. But Jesus gave Peter (and us) a response that far exceeded what Peter thought was benevolent. Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)
The obvious point Jesus was making was not that we limit forgiveness to 490 times. But rather, that forgiveness is an ongoing reality for the Christian. Think about how many times you have sinned against the Lord! In truth, your very nature is sinful; so that even what you perceive to be “good” isn't typically done in the right motivation. Your sin against God is infinite. Yet through Jesus Christ, your forgiveness is equally infinite. And if God has forgiven you; then why should you withhold forgiveness from another?
But what if they don't want your forgiveness? For your own peace of mind, forgive them anyway. Harboring bitterness does very little to the one who hurt you; but the bitterness can destroy you. There is simply no place in a Christian's life for holding a grudge. It is immature. It is not Christlike. And it does not glorify God.
Do you need to forgive someone today? Do you need to leave the past in the past? Take heart that the Lord can give you the gracious heart you need to love and forgive others. Never forget that you have been forgiven. Now go and do likewise.