I've seen this quote floating around Facebook for a few months now, and I've always thought it was poignant, but it seems especially appropriate on Easter. Some of Jesus's last words in Luke 23:34 were, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (NIV). Even as He hung on the cross with nails in His hands and feet and a crown of thorns on His head, Jesus still managed to ask God for forgiveness for the very ones who crucified Him. As humans, it is common for us to struggle with forgiveness, to hold grudges against those who have wronged us. Oftentimes we feel like we are owed an apology and that they don't deserve our forgiveness, but forgiveness is not given because the other person deserves it. We should extend forgiveness to others for a number of reasons. First, consider this: Think of all the times God forgave you when you didn't obey Him, all the times He spared you when it looked like you wouldn't make it, all the times He provided for you when you didn't have the means. We fall short of God's glory every day and He still looks out for us. He forgives us even when we know that what we are doing is wrong.
|Image source: Byron Katie Blogs / Shape [edits are my own]|
Not only is forgiveness a godly thing to practice, it's also necessary for our peace of mind. We should extend forgiveness not for the sake of the person who wronged us, not because they earned it, but for ourselves. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (NIV). When we hold a grudge against someone, we inadvertently give them an amount of power over us. When we forgive them wholeheartedly, without allowing ourselves to harbor anger and resentment, we take our power back.
If you're still angry about a situation, that means you haven't fully let it go, and if you don't let it go, you're giving it permission to keep eating away at you. Sometimes, you'll never get the 'I'm sorry' you think they owe you. Don't lose sleep (or salvation) over it, because 9 times out of 10, the person who wronged you is moving on with their lives not caring about the fact that you're hurting. Ask yourself this: Is whatever they did to you worth giving up your spot in Heaven? If the answer is no (The answer will always be no!), forgive and give it to the Father. Take your power back. Your eternal life depends on it.