The Struggle To Forgive

Keith Newell

The world has a hard time with forgiveness. Often when someone has been wronged or hurt, forgiveness is furthest from his or her mind. Instead, it is a mad dash to the lawyer to “see what I can get.” Our society is ready to sue each other at the drop of a hat. Sadly, forgiveness has taken a back seat to selfishness.

Some people are wrong (and they know it), yet they refuse to ask for forgiveness. The “deed” was an unfortunate mistake with the blame falling directly on them, yet they refuse to ask for forgiveness. This occurs when we let pride get in the way. Generally speaking, we have a hard time admitting we are wrong, even if we know it. 

Yes, the world really wrestles with forgiveness. How about Christians? We certainly should not have any problems in this area, should we? We realize all Jesus has done for us. We have full knowledge of how He hung on that cruel cross at Calvary so that His blood can cleanse us of sins. We believe that Jesus’ sacrifice enables those who obey His commands to be forgiven. Therefore, Christians must have a good grasp on this whole “forgiveness” thing, right?

Regrettably, this is not always the case even among brothers and sisters in Christ. We all know people (sometimes Christians) who act like they are never wrong. In reality, we have all been guilty of this at one time or another. Again, “pride” seems to hinder forgiveness even among brethren.

A certain brother in Christ left a congregation, but, before departing, he unwisely “burned some bridges.” He said some things and acted in a way that was very un-Christian. Many years went by, and he desired to be forgiven by the congregation where he once had worshiped. 

Upon hearing his request for forgiveness, another brother said, “I do not have to forgive him. That's between him and God.” Some others made similar comments. I do not know what went on behind closed doors that started all the hurt, but the damage left some very deep wounds. Regardless, this attitude goes against the very things Jesus taught us while on earth.

Concerning forgiving our brethren, Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Luke 17:3,4.

If we cannot forgive our own Christian family, how will we be able to forgive our worldly enemies? We are told to do that as well. Our Lord Jesus Christ asked the Father to forgive the very men who were killing Him. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34. What better example do we need to forgive petty things such as our neighbor’s playing his music too loud or our co-worker’s backing into our new car?

Finally, recall the parable Jesus spoke to Peter (Matthew 18:21-35) concerning forgiveness. Jesus told of a certain king who was settling his accounts. One servant owed a great amount of money to the king. The king decided to sell him and his family so that his debt could be paid. The servant fell down before the king and begged for mercy. Moved with compassion, the king released the servant and his family and COMPLETELY erased the debt.

This servant, with his freshly cleaned slate, refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him considerably less money. Word reached the king that this wicked servant had no compassion on his fellow servant such as was shown him. Furious, the king handed the wicked servant over to the torturers until he could pay back all the money that he had previously forgiven him. Jesus ended this parable with these sobering words. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (v. 35)

The point is simple: Everyone makes mistakes. I have sinned, and you have sinned. We have all sinned! (Romans 3:23) We must remember to have a heart of forgiveness when someone hurts or wrongs us. Is that always going to be easy to do? No. Is that the attitude God desires from His followers? Yes. -501 Orient Ave., DuBois, PA 15801

(Editor’s note: Brother Keith serves as minister at the DeBois church of Christ, DeBois, PA. He and his wife, Tina, have been married 14 years and have three children: Alyssa (11), Brittany (8), and Ty (6). He has an Associate degree in Mass Communications (Print emphasis) from Pennsylvania College of Technology. He had his own painting and remodeling business for over 10 years and worked in a counter top shop for over 3 years. He quit his job last year to serve the Lord full-time as a preacher. He has taken courses on-line through World Video Bible School.)

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