If you’ve been anywhere near a church, you’ve probably heard about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing to receive and so excruciating to give away. It’s so hard to give up something that we feel is “our right” to keep. If someone has wronged us, we have the right to feel hurt and angry.
But forgiveness is sacrificing that right. It’s a dying to self. That “dying” part hurts too. And if we focus on what we’re giving up rather than what we’ll gain, we may never get to forgiving.
Here’s a few things I learned that help me when it comes to forgiving.
1. By forgiving we gain peace and freedom. Whoever wronged us will no longer have that power over us…that power we gave them to make us feel miserable, bitter, or angry. But yes, we have to give up something first. And it’s easier to give it up when we look at all we’ll get in return!
2. It’s easier to forgive when I remember all that I’ve been forgiven for. When I look at all Christ did for me (especially poignant during Holy Week) what right do I really have to hold a grudge? Yeah it’s hard to die to self, to give up my rights, but look at the death Christ went through to pay for my debt! Look at the rights He laid down out of love for us.
3. Forgiveness does not equal trust. If someone has wronged me, I’m called to forgive them. That doesn’t mean that I trust them at the same level. Trust is something that can be earned. Forgiveness is freely given and freely received. Now there may need to be some work to build trust again, some work to help make wrongs better ( I don’t know if wrongs can ever become “right”) and restore a relationship. But I think that’s different from forgiveness.
We don’t need to wait for the person that wronged us to ask for forgiveness. That may never happen. But in light of Christ’s sacrifice, in light of all we have to gain, forgiveness is worth giving. And don’t forget that forgiveness is always there to receive too! Not earned, just a gift to receive.