What is it about forgiveness that makes it so difficult? Being hurt or offended is something that is part of life isn’t it? Jesus said, “It is impossible but that offences will come…” (Luke 17:1 KJV). In other translations they’re called “stumbling blocks” (NASB) or “temptations to sin” (NLT). Either way the point is there will always be opportunity to be offended by something or someone, so it really depends on us and how we deal with it.
In Luke 17 Jesus goes on to tell his disciples “If he sins (trespasses) against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent, forgive him.” Jesus is telling us we must forgive one another no matter how many times there is offense. The disciples’ response to this is amazing. It would be funny if it wasn’t so true. They said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Let’s think about this for a minute. These same men had witnessed Jesus perform some of the most amazing miracles ever. They had seen him feed thousands with a young mans lunch, cast out demons, heal diseases and even raise a boy back to life, but they never asked him for more faith. Yet, when it comes to forgiving one another, they cried out “increase our faith” as if forgiveness is more difficult than raising the dead.
The pain and division that is caused by unforgiveness may go on for years. I know a man in jail and a woman in prison right now that are struggling with forgiveness. The man is holding unforgiveness for someone and seems to want to talk about it but not let it go. The woman on the other hand is battling with forgiving herself. Both of them are in bondage because of simply not forgiving.
When it comes to forgiving others I always think of a saying I once heard. Although sometimes these things sound cliché I can’t think of a better way to put it. “Unforgiveness is like taking poison expecting the other person to die.” Most of the time harboring unforgiveness really does hurt you while the other person goes on living life as always.
As far as forgiving oneself I have come to realize if you can’t forgive yourself it means your standards are higher than God’s. While this lady in prison told Tracey and I about how she was having a difficult time forgiving herself Tracey prayed. As she prayed what came to me was “His blood is enough.” He tells us in the Bible Jesus’ blood is enough! There is nothing more he can or will do for us. Either we receive and believe the forgiveness available because of the price Jesus paid or we don’t.
While Jesus hung on the cross he said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The work he came to do he had completed. Forgiveness of sin has taken place. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). “Christ has been offered once to bear the sins of many…” (Hebrews 9:28). Our job is to receive it by faith and count it so.
Written by Louie