It’s the season to think about Jesus’ birth. As a baby there in Bethlehem, he really didn’t do anything for mankind, but years later, he died for the sins of the whole world. And, because of him laying down his life for us, we now have forgiveness from God.
I’m aware the Bible teaches we ought to forgive others, “forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” But do we really need to forgive everyone? Even if they’re not sorry?
I’m also aware that Peter asked Jesus how many times in a day he needed to forgive someone. He asked if seven times was enough. Jesus’s response was seven times seventy! But what about someone who doesn’t deserve our forgiveness?
I have on many occasions forgiven someone who has done me wrong. I’m sure you have, too. And for all of us, there are times when it takes more effort to forgive. And we both know, remembering what God forgave us for makes it easier to forgive. But…
Do You Really Have To Forgive Everyone?
What about situations where someone hurts our feelings, or worse, who had no intention of hurting us? Someone in fact who has no idea their words or actions caused us any pain? Someone, for whatever reason, just acted like a jerk?
Some would say that person needs to be confronted. They need to be told how their words or actions offended. They in fact need to be sorry for what they did and then we can forgive them. But is that the real issue?
Many times people who choose not to forgive carry anger or resentment for any number of reasons. What was done to them was unloving, unkind; it was downright disrespectful. The person causing the hurt should have known better, and to make matters worse, they don’t even seem to care about the hurt they’ve caused.
The reality is, many times people don’t even realize they’ve hurt someone. If you’ve been married longer than a month or two, I’m sure you can relate. And those married for a long time know forgiveness is a huge key for a happy, long lasting marriage.
But What’s The Real Issue?
Yes, there are times when someone ought to be told their words or actions offended. Maybe they didn’t realize it, or maybe they just don’t really care. But that’s not the real issue.
What is important, very important, is that we forgive, regardless. Regardless of whether the one offending recognizes or cares. Regardless of whether the one offending is even sorry. We just forgive, period.
Small things? Easy, most of the time. Big things? Not so easy. But, for our own benefit, we just forgive, period.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with how much we are hurt. Forgiveness has nothing to do with whether the person who offended is sorry or not. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person who offended getting away with something.
Forgiving others has everything to do with you.
Forgiveness Is About You
Carrying the resentment, anger, hurt, and disappointment is extremely hard on you. It will take a toll on you emotionally and physically. So, no matter how bad the hurt, forgive.
Those closest to us, family and friends, can hurt us the most. But carrying the hurt, carrying the resentment or anger, allowing the hurt to grow, brings great harm to us physically and mentally.
Proverbs 17:22 says, A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.
According to the Mayo Clinic, forgiveness brings with it plenty of health benefits, including improved relationships, decreased anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure, a lowered risk of depression, and stronger immune system and heart health. Letting go of negative emotions can often have a remarkable impact on the body.
Forgiveness doesn’t justify the hurtful action, nor does it excuse the offender. But it does keep us from being robbed of our peace and joy in living. God, Who created us, offers great help to us when others hurt us: forgive.
And, finally, the words the savior of the world spoke, while in excruciating pain, so horribly and unjustly punished, ought to inspire us to forgive, regardless. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”