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Failing to Forgive

Brother, sister, mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter, friend, colleague, neighbor….our relationships contain many people with the potential to hurt us, very often in small ongoing ways. Sometimes in trying to be good people, we brush these hurts aside, thinking “I am not a vindictive or overly sensitive person, these things shouldn’t bother me.” But they do. They do because our egos are like magnets, and resentments are attracted to them. What is the impact of holding onto these resentments? Do we hold back in our lives? Do we argue with people? Do we gossip? What does the Bible teach about this?

We have been dealing bluntly with sin by confessing our sins of leading others to sin and not rebuking sin in others. Jesus adds a third sin for our consideration – failing to forgive. He says, “If your brother repents, for give him” (Luke 17:3). He expands the instructions to forgive. “If he sins against you seven times in a day …. Forgive him” (Luke 17:4). We like to set standards and impose limits for forgiveness. We are impatient when someone repeatedly sins against us.

The Lord promises that forgiveness is possible. Even when hurt seems too great to repair, God tells us “I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). We experience a heart of stone when we are too angry, too selfish, or too frozen by the pain others have caused us. A heart of flesh, while it may be vulnerable, it is compassionate. A heart of flesh sees that while we are feeling pain, the other person may also be hurting for that pain they caused us. We can get so caught up in ourselves that we do not even notice another is struggling from the offense. It is true that people need to be held accountable for their actions. But these people also need patience from us. As it was said: “Be patient with me” (Matthew 18:26). Practicing patience with another, holding onto the hope and vision for our relationship with them, is a true act of compassion. We need to invite the Lord into the journey and ask for the courage it takes for us to be patient with another and the understanding needed to see that they too are working through the pain that needs forgiveness.

Bluntly Jesus exposes our sin. He knows our tendency to keep score on others. He knows we often hold grudges even after we have spoken a word of forgiveness. We confess our sin of failing to forgive.

Clearly Jesus forgives. He lived in a world which wronged Him. He opposed sin, but constantly offered forgiveness to others. And He died on the cross to pay for the World’s sins. He forgave His disciples and gave them the power to forgive sins for His sake. He forgives our failure to forgive, and empowers us to go the extra mile. Dealing bluntly with sin leads to clear forgiveness from the Savior.

REFERENCE: Matthew 18:21-35

Written By: Pius Kedem Sedofia

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