Forgiveness, it’s an action that has a great number of benefits but is one of the hardest things to do. To forgive someone who has wronged you or hurt you is not a normal reaction. A normal reaction would be to seek retribution or even revenge. To make the other person feel as bad (or even worse) than you feel.
Even those of us (myself included) who call ourselves Christians and seek to follow after Jesus struggle with forgiveness. I know when I’m hurt by someone badly, I wrestle with wanting to forgive them. If I’ve been hurt deeply, I been known to sometimes hold onto that hurt because I’m not ready to forgive the other person. In reality, the only person that truly hurts is me. I’m the only one that’s hurting. The other person may or may not care how I’m feeling. They may or may not be sorry for what they did. But I can still forgive them, whether or not they accept it.
I think a great example of this is seen with Michael Vick, the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. With the recent controversy regarding his teammate Riley Cooper and the comments Cooper made, Vick stood before the media and answered questions regarding his teammate. In his response to the questions, Vick said that he forgave Cooper. Vick understands the cost of forgiveness, given the journey his life has taken. He knew that he had been forgiven and that in turn he should forgive others as well.
Jesus spoke on forgiveness to his disciples as they traveled along from to city to city. One time, Peter came up to Jesus and asked him how many times he was to forgive someone who had sinned against him. Peter even threw out a number (seven) as to how many times. Jesus’ response was this “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22). The point Jesus was making was to not keep count how many times you forgive but that you forgive. The point is to forgive.
Jesus died on the cross for my sins. He forgave me for my sins because of what He did on the cross. As a follower of Jesus, I’m called to forgive. And if you are a follower of Jesus, that is what you are to do as well. Is that easy? No, but it is worth it.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-13)