What are we to do, especially as Christians, when someone does not treat us well? Maybe it was a painful interaction we had with a stranger, or it may have been someone who was really close to us who hurt us.
Please know, I am not giving anyone permission to continue to hurt you or sin against you. This also does not mean you can’t hold someone accountable for their actions.
I am speaking to a past hurt that still brings you pain. In many ways, they are still impacting your life today. How can we let go of this?
To understand this from a Christian point of view, we have to see ourselves first.
All of us are sinners. The Apostle Paul writes,
6 While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. 8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5, CEB)
The Gospel says even when we were at our worst, enemies of God, Jesus chose to forgive us and gave His life for ours.
We did not earn this forgiveness, and we did not deserve this. This is why we are called to forgive.
Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32, CEB)
Jesus does not give His followers a choice.
14 “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins. (Matthew 6, CEB)
When we understand how much we have been forgiven, we have a better understanding of why we are called to forgive others. Forgiveness means they don’t have power over your life anymore. This is not “forgive and forget.” You don’t forget, but you are choosing to let go.
The Gospel also reminds us that if they fully knew the love of Jesus in their life, they would not have hurt you the way they did. Most of the time people hurt other people because they are pursuing their own selfish desires. They are broken, hurting on the inside, and likely do not even know it.
Unbeknownst to them, they are trying to save themselves. They are trying to solve the problem of sin in their lives. However, it is only a problem that can be solved by trusting in the work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus spoke this powerful prayer over the very people who put Him on the cross to die,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:32a, CEB)
Can we move from forgiveness to even desiring them to fully know the love of Christ in this way? Can we move from bitterness and anger to sorrow?
It may be surprising but forgiveness can indeed be a gift, not only for them but also for you.