Forgiveness is really hard. It's so much easier to just write people off and pretend they don't walk around on the same planet as you anymore. This used to be my preferred way of dealing with people who offended me and something I still have to fight against at times. God has really worked this out in me and continues to because we are always faced with people and situations that test this.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.” And so, I think sometimes we need to say “Lord I forgive this person, but help my unforgiveness.” Right? Remind me of your unfailing forgiveness and love that is given to me and let it stir my heart to WANT to forgive this person. Give me a heart for this person that I don’t currently have. Show me ways that I can act in forgiveness to this person.
I remember one time I was having a really hard time with this, but I wanted to act in forgiveness because God says that he forgives us as we forgive others. I wanted to forgive so bad… but man, when I thought about how this person hurt me, it was really hard. And so first I had to give God that hurt over and over and ask him to heal it. Because the truth is sometimes I would think I had forgiven them, but then I would see them. I would be reminded of the hurt. So, I would have to go back to God and say here ya go. Because God’s word says that we are to hold every thought captive to Christ and so we have to take our hurt back to Him and remind ourselves what God’s word says.
I had to stop operating out of my own fleshly desires on how to handle this and walk in the spirit. I had to make a decision that I was going to act in love even when my flesh resisted that. And I did it on shaky legs at times.
It didn’t look perfect. It didn’t feel great. It felt sticky and sloppy. But that’s ok.
When we obey God, it doesn’t have to feel great.
So, one day I packaged up a dozen eggs from our chickens and I brought them with me. I knew we would be seeing each other. And here’s the thing – I knew this person had a hard heart towards me. Have you ever had to forgive someone who didn’t ask for forgiveness? Have you ever had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry? Well, that’s the situation I was in.
Why bring eggs? Because I needed to act out my forgiveness. Because forgiveness doesn’t just sit in the corner. It moves forward in kindness. This act of kindness was me putting a stamp on my desire to forgive.
And I gave her those eggs and you know what? She smiled and gave me a hug and we became the best of friends again.
Just kidding. She didn’t smile. She didn’t give me a hug. If anything, she was probably confused as to why I gave her eggs. Because when you are really hard pressed to keep a hard heart towards someone you don’t necessarily want them to be nice to you. But I did it anyways. And it didn’t make the situation any better. She didn’t start being nicer. Matter of fact, things got worse.
But you know what did happen? I started being nicer. I started being kinder. That act of forgiveness bred something in me. It softened MY heart. That act of forgiveness kept the seed of bitterness away and I felt lighter and happier because I wasn’t carrying around the hurt anymore. I was making steps to heal it even though this other person didn’t want any parts of it.
And that’s what forgiveness does for us. It keeps us soft hearted. It keeps the enemy from getting a foot hold in our hearts and mind and wreaking havoc. It honors God and brings forth good fruit in our lives.
The next time you are struggling to forgive someone but you really want to, do an act of kindness towards them. Fight against your flesh and DO IT. You will be amazed at what comes from that, even if it's just the change in you.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”