Forgiveness is important in any relationship, and Jesus and God both agree on this. In Matthew 18:21-35 says, “21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! 23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. 31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. 35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Then in Colossians 3:13, God tells us through the Apostle Paul, “13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Too many relationships have ended because of unforgiveness on one or both people’s sides, and wars have been started on people holding grudges as well. Refusing to forgive causes bitterness to take root. Forgiveness sets YOU free from the pain and hurt. It is not always easy to forgive, but it is necessary – and Jesus can help you do it, in order to move on with your life, and also in order to save relationships of any kind, and prevent wars that would otherwise have started because of it. Forgiveness can end wars, and end fights between friends and other people we have relationships with. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:8 that love covers a multitude of sins, and that we are to love each other. Forgiveness is a form of love, and so when you love someone and they offend you, then forgiving them will bring peace back to the relationship, and the LORD God will forgive you for your sins (Matthew 6:14 says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you.”) so there will be peace between you, Jesus, and God too when you forgive others. True love keeps no record of being wronged (look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for the characteristics of genuine love), in any relationships.
However, if you do not forgive others who offend or hurt you in some way (or yourself for a mistake you have made), then bitterness will take root (Hebrews 12:15 mentions how poisonous bitterness can be), and your hearts will harden and you will end up making the mistake of ending relationships you could have saved by forgiving the other person, yourself, or both. Holding a grudge can also lead to wars whether personal between friends and significant others, or public against other nations and countries. Hate begins when you make the decision to remain angry instead of forgiving. Paul cautions us in Ephesians 4:29 that letting the sun go down on your anger can give a foothold to the devil. In other words, it opens the door for Satan to get you to do ungodly things and commit great sins against the person you are angry at, innocent people, and/or God. Do not open any windows or doors for the enemy to take control of your life because he leads down roads of destruction that end in death and God’s eternal wrath. Refuse to let unrighteous anger to stay, and channel righteous anger (being indignant about injustice) to lead to godly actions to bring justice to the unjust situation. Forgive whoever you need to forgive, whether someone who has wronged you, or yourself. Remaining angry can ruin your life, forgiving can save it. Everybody makes mistakes, for nobody (but Jesus) is perfect, but love covers a multitude of sins and forgiveness can bring healing both to your relationship with the person you were angry with, and to yourself (mind, body, heart, soul, and spirit).
I know it is not easy to let things go, however, with the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, it can be done. Pray to God in the name of Jesus for help letting whatever situation or thing you need to let go and keep praying until you are able to do it and look to the Scriptures about overlooking offenses and forgiveness if you need to. The only things you should be working to hold onto are your salvation, love, faith, hope, peace, joy, and other fruit of the Holy Spirit, such as self-control. Let go of all toxic emotions, thoughts, and anything that hinders your ability to deepen your relationship with Jesus. God promises to give us strength when we are weak (Isaiah 40:29), so let us remember this when we are struggling with difficult situations or with forgiving someone or ourselves and bring the situation to God. You may not feel different immediately (though maybe you will), but if you believe God will help you when you need it, then He will. God never tells us to figure it out for ourselves. He invites us to turn to Him in our times of trouble. But we must be willing to forgive because it is a command God gives us, and as long as we have a soft enough heart that wants to forgive and let the offenses go, then that opens the door for God to give us the peace we need to forgive, and then when we forgive, that is when the healing process will begin. The key is to be willing to forgive whether the other person is sorry or not. Going back to Matthew 6:14-15, in the model prayer we are asking God to forgive us our sins because we have forgiven other’s sins against us. God is willing to help soften our hearts to forgive, but we must be willing to have our hearts softened to forgive. God will not force us to do what we do not want to do, but we do not get to choose the consequences of our actions that we take against His will. Forgive whoever you are currently having a hard time forgiving. Don’t let bitterness take root, or give room for the devil to work in your life by remaining angry. Jesus forgave you your sins when he died on the cross. He forgave us all. Surely then, we can forgive others, especially since we have such an amazing example of how to forgive in Jesus, for He forgave many times in the Gospels. Even when people were mocking him, insulting him, beating him and torturing him, some of Jesus’ last words were “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they are doing.” in Luke 23:34. We ought to (including me) think of all of the things Jesus was asking the Father to forgive when He said that. Jesus forgave His tormentors and all of us, so we ought to consider our love for Jesus and for the other person to be greater than our anger, hurt, or pain and be willing to let all of that go and forgive the other person or persons. No matter how hard forgiveness seems, it will always be worth it to be rid of the anger, hurt, and pain, and to be right with the LORD.