Scripture is pretty intense about forgiveness. Jesus says "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15). As a follower of Christ, unforgiveness isn't really an option. If we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others who've hurt us.
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18 to let us understand a bit why this is so important to him. Basically, he says that God has forgiven us a whole lot more comparatively to what others can and may do to us. In his story one man (that typifies Father God) forgives his servant 10,000 talents. To put this into perspective, 1 talent equals 200 pounds of gold. 10,000 talents equals 2 million pounds of gold, and would be worth about 8 1/2 billion dollars in today's market. In the story, God forgives us this massive debt. The servant goes home and his servant comes to him, owing him 100 denarii. A good days wage was about 1 denarii. 1 denarii would be worth about .1375 ounces of silver, or 62 cents of silver. This would put his debt at around $62. The servant who had been forgiven so much by God, in turn mercilessly held his servant captive with his family until the debt had been paid. Basically, God has forgiven us so much and has given us so much (way beyond what we could comprehend or believe) and we must forgive others who owe us so little in comparison to what we owe God.
Now most of us know we need to forgive (although maybe we didn't know it was so serious as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6 and 18). But the BIG question is how do we forgive. Here are a few thoughts:
1. All of us probably have people we do or will need to forgive at times of our lives. Even those who hurt us have people they need to forgive. It's a fact of life.
2. Forgiveness is essential to our faith. Let's do whatever we can to forgive, and seek God to help us get over the rest.
3. Forgiving someone who has hurt you (possibly very deeply) doesn't mean you are saying what they have done to you is okay, or that you will continue to let them be in a position to hurt you. Quite the opposite. When you forgive, you are releasing your pain and leaving the situation in God's hands. God will avenge you and those who sin will reap what they sow. You are simply letting go of the anger, pain and bitterness and trusting God.
4. As with everything in our walk with Christ, let's seek the Lord and be dependant on him for help to overcome. Read the Word, spend extended time in prayer and ask for specific grace to forgive.
5. Forgiveness, like salvation, is at first a specific moment in history when we choose to forgive. Pray a prayer of forgiveness towards those who have hurt you. Write it down in a journal or on a notepad. Today I forgive.
6. Forgiveness, like discipleship, goes beyond a one time decision and is a process of continually choosing to love others and forgive others their sins. Jesus teaches this in the above passage (Matthew 18:22). Forgive over and over. Pray for those who sin against you. Bless and do not curse. Keep your heart pure.
Let's Be Kind and Rewind the pain in our lives by forgiving and forgetting and receive the healing and freedom of Christ.