"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." NIV
Sometimes our hurt can really interfere with our giving forgiveness. The problem with that is God commands that we forgive even if the other person doesn't ask for forgiveness. In fact, we must forgive even if we feel the other person does not deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness is not contingent on the offending party's heart, it's dependent on ours. I can't control another person's sense of wrong or confession of wrongful doing, but I am in control of how I will respond to the hurt and how I will let it affect or not affect my life.
A few years ago I had a women's Bible study of 30 somethings. Through the course of the study, I came to realize that half the women had broken relationships with their earthly fathers, and it had happened in their early teens. The Lord started speaking to me about this and after talking to a friend who had gone through this with her father, we planned a forgiveness weekend at church. Saturday, our speaker talked about her experiences with her father which were extremely abusive and the process she went through to forgive him. Then on Sunday morning, the pastor focused the entire service on forgiveness and we had an extended altar time. Four of the six women in my study were there that day, and all of them were at the altar with their husbands beside them asking God to forgive them for their being unforgiving and for the strength to forgive their fathers and be released of the pain their dads had caused. You see, it didn't matter that their fathers weren't there, it mattered that their hearts were right with God. We are not judge and jury, God is. We are just told to forgive "just as in Christ God forgave you." Easy? No. Obedient? Yes. And so freeing. Being unforgiving eats away at our hearts, forgiveness heals.
Lord, help me to have a forgiving heart. You forgave me -- a sinner who hurt You terribly -- so I can do nothing less for those who hurt me.
1. Using a concordance, look up "forgive" and "forgiveness."
2. What are the consequences of being unforgiving? (See Matthew 6:9-15)
3. Is there someone you need to forgive? Do it now and be free of the anger and bitterness. (NOTE: You may need to tell the other person you are forgiving them, but it is not always possible or appropriate to go to the person you are forgiving, especially if they have not asked for forgiveness. Sometimes, they don't even know that they wronged you. The important part of forgiveness is that you have a right attitude and your heart is right with God.)
4. Spend some time thanking God for forgiving you, a sinner saved by His grace and mercy. You were once undeserving of forgiveness, now you are a child of the King.