Our forgiving others is absolutely crucial to our physical and spiritual health. We cannot have a healthy relationship with God if we are holding a grudge against another person. It doesn’t matter if we are right and feel that we are justified to be mad at someone. Jesus stated the second most important commandment after loving God is to love others.
“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
There may be a few people in our lives that we love as much as ourselves, but without God’s help, it is impossible to love others as ourselves. As humans, we are very self-centered. For instance, when we look at a picture that we are in, don’t we look at ourselves first? Don’t we judge whether the picture is good or bad by how we look in it?
I’m just making a point here. Loving and forgiving others is not always easy. Sometimes it is impossible without God’s help. It may not be easy, but it is vital to our relationship with Christ.
The scriptures tell us that our forgiveness depends on our forgiving others.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Luke 6:25)
There is another aspect of forgiveness that we need to consider. God tells us that vengeance is His not ours.
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (John 12:19)
Why does God say vengeance is for Him? Surely sin always has its consequences, but do you think God wants or enjoys dishing out our revenge? This statement is not about the one receiving revenge. It is about the one who is angry and wants revenge. God knows the one who is angry towards another, the one who feels they have been hurt or taken advantage of, is being hurt by their anger much more than the one they are angry at. A person who is holding anger or resentment towards another is being robbed of their joy and closeness with God. God loves us and knows what is best for us.
Anger is not only damaging to our physical health, but it is also devastating to our spiritual well-being. It may require the love of Christ to be able to forgive, but when we do it will heal and cleanse our very soul. Joy will replace our anger.
It has been said, that if we forgive someone, then someone is set free and that someone is YOU!
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Sometimes we think they are the same. We believe that if we can’t forget then we haven’t forgiven. Forgiving doesn’t depend on forgetting. They are not the same.
We usually can’t forget and sometimes it may be best if we don’t. We may still need to be cautious around someone we have forgiven. Nor do we have to accept or approve of their behavior.
Forgiving means that we no longer hold anything against someone. But more importantly, it means we are trusting God with the situation and our life and we are no longer a slave to our anger. It means our relationship with God is healed and we can now enjoy a much closer walk with him.