At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?" Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. -Matthew 18:21-22
In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part. -Matthew 6:14-15
I got a friend request this morning on Facebook. I'm sure you're thinking, "so what?" at this point. Well, this friend request is a person I have been friends with on Facebook and then NOT friends with (because this person keeps unfriending me and then sending me a new request) at least 4-5 times now. Again, I'm sure most of you already have the easy answer at the ready for this: hit "decline."
That would be the simple way of dealing with it, I suppose. Except that this person is a good friend to one of my best friends and odds are, I will see this person at her house, at church, and all sorts of other mutual functions. And besides, declining someone on Facebook simply because I can seems petty and sends the message that I'm refusing to forgive this back-and-forth friend.
Now, in my opinion, that scenario is fairly easy to forgive. But what about the tough ones? What about the friend who has run your good name into the ground? Or the husband who cheated on you? Or even the aunt who has cut herself off from the rest of the family and refuses to talk to anyone? Do you have to forgive them? Do they deserve to be forgiven?
Forgiveness isn't about the other person. It's about you. YOU are the one that has been hurt by them. YOU are the one that is carrying their words around as though they are truth. YOU are the one that is reliving that awful night over and over again, growing more and more bitter to everyone around you. Odds are, the person who wronged you isn't as affected by what they did as you are.
"But they OWE me an apology!" No, they don't. The apology isn't for you! We have this so backward in our society. While the forgiveness is meant to make the offended feel better, the apology is about making things right in the offender's heart. You can forgive without an apology!
Forgiveness is about freeing yourself from the hold that negative event has on you. It's about saying "I refuse to dwell on this any longer and I refuse to be bitter for the rest of my life. I am NOT going to let this person destroy the rest of my life."
By not forgiving, you are giving your betrayer the power to hurt you over and over again. Does that mean that you have to allow the offender back in your life? That's not what we're talking about here. I'm talking about simply letting go of your anger and hurt toward that person and forgiving them.
So who are you feeling moved to forgive? What event have you been holding tightly to? Are you ready to let go? Have a talk with God! It won't be easy, but it will be right! Good luck on your journey toward forgiveness!