Consider the end of the Lord’s Prayer and the verses after:
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6.12-15
And Matthew 18.21-22
“Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.'”
This is yet another thing that Jesus teaches that is very simple and very clear: we must forgive other people. You might protest, “You don’t know what that person did to me!” True. Notice the example of Jesus:
“When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.'”
Now, I know this is hard. And to forgive does not always mean to forget. And to forgive doesn’t mean you don’t protect yourself in the future. What does it mean to forgive? I have heard a few ideas. Forgiving means letting go of any expectation of revenge or pay back. Forgiving means I can pray God’s blessings for the person. Forgiving means I treat the person in a kind and loving way as if they had not hurt me.
Forgiveness benefits you and the other person. You stop expecting them to constantly prove themselves or make it up to you. You stop treating them in a hostile fashion. But forgiveness benefits you–and this might be the most important thing for your personal welfare. When you forgive someone, you release the hold they have on you. When you forgive someone you put down the heavy burden of resentment and bitterness. This might be more of a process than a one-time happening. That’s OK.
DO THIS TODAY TO FOLLOW JESUS: Against whom are you harboring unforgiveness? Against whom are you holding a grudge? Who was hurt you and you haven’t yet let it go? In your soul, in your mind, forgive that person. It might even help to say it out loud: “I forgive ________ for ________.”
PRAY THIS PRAYER: “Jesus, help me follow your example and teaching and forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the grace to put down my bitterness and resentment. Lord, I forgive _________ (name them).”