Why should we forgive others? Well, for starters, we are called to.
"Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." - Matthew 18:21-22
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." - Matthew 6:14
My Pastor has recently been going through the book of Philemon, focusing on forgiveness. Below is last Sunday's sermon he preached. It was quite good, which is why I thought to share it!
Pastor Ken Whitten: The Language of Forgiveness
One of the things he started the series with was asking the congregation at Idlewild, who comes to mind when we talk about forgiveness? So, that's what I want to ask you. Who comes to mind when the topic of forgiveness comes up? Is it an ex-husband/boyfriend, ex-wife/girlfriend, parent, roommate, sibling, co-worker? Everybody thinks of someone....which is a great starting place to begin the process of forgiveness.
The person who comes to my mind when I think about forgiveness is someone who caused me many years of deep pain. But when I think of that person, I no longer think, it'd be great if I could just reach the place of being able to forgive them. I now think, I hope to continue on this path of making the constant choice of walking in forgiveness. And man, how freeing! That person certainly did not need me to forgive them. But I needed to forgive them, for myself. It allowed me to move on from holding onto bitterness, disappointment, resentment, and anger. Now, when that person comes to mind, I am no longer filled with anxiety or even sadness, but I am excited that God has given me the ability to forgive, care for, and even love this person (again).
There are several wonderful resources available on the topic of forgiveness. Here are just a few...
Want to be Happy? Forgive Your Enemies -- by Donald Miller
Forgiveness and Restoration -- by Rose Sweet (Focus on the Family)
Changes That Heal -- by Dr. Henry Cloud
10 Things Forgiveness is Not -- by Pastor Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church)
Now, what's holding you back, from choosing to forgive that person who has wronged or hurt you? God has forgiven us for all that we have done to wrong Him. That's motivation enough for me to practice the choice of forgiveness. And I sure hope you feel encouraged and better equipped to move towards making the choice to forgive your person.
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32