Have you ever had someone hold a grudge against you? A family member or a friend? You said or did something wrong … maybe recently but maybe ages ago … and they just won’t move on or let it go – they seem determined to hold it against you.
It hurts, doesn’t it?
And even if it’s got to the point where it doesn’t hurt anymore, it’s probably at the expense of the relationship – because relationships can’t function where unforgiveness and bitterness and resentment are active.
It’s hard to be on the other end of unforgiveness. And when you are, you are reminded again of how powerful forgiveness is; how it is the only thing that can bring mending and healing in relationships.
So let’s flip it around then, how are YOU at forgiving? How quickly do you forgive? How long have you held a grudge?
Forgiveness and forget-ness are two different things. Forgiveness and complete relational restoration are two different things. Forgiveness and healthy relationship are synonymous. You CANNOT have healthy relationships without giving and receiving forgiveness.
Why don’t we forgive?
“Well, I think they need to pay for their actions. They need to realise that their choices have consequences. If I forgive them, they’re hardly going to learn that what they did was wrong or fully grasp the error of their ways. I need to not forgive them to keep reminding them of their short fall so they’ll be sure to learn and grow and never do it again. So really, it’s like I’m helping them to become a better person. And until they DO become a better person, I’m definitely not going to trust them or let them enjoy our friendship either.”
Any of those lines sound familiar?
What happens when we don’t forgive?
As Doctor Phil would say “How’s that workin’ for ya?” How much success have you had in correcting another person’s attitudes, actions or speech through holding a grudge? How successful has your bitterness and resentment been at bringing reform to another person’s life or enhancing your relationships?
Nelson Mandela (among others) is quoted as saying
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
When we don’t forgive, it is unlikely to have the desired impact on the other person and in the meantime we poison ourselves. We sow seeds of offence and hostility in our own hearts and grow nothing but brokenness and wounding that is toxic not only to us but to all our other relationships too.
Why should we forgive?
Forgiveness is a discipleship principle. It is something Jesus instructs us to do as part of living a life reflective of the incredible forgiveness that has been offered to us. Forgiveness is the mark of a person who is very much aware that they are broken and fallen and prone to bad choices and poor judgement and very often in need of forgiveness themselves. It is the mark of a person who knows that much has been forgiven them. It is the overflow of the incredible grace extended to us by God through Jesus.
As far as it depends on you … what change, what life, what vitality and grace could you bring to your relationships and the people around you if you made the choice to forgive?
Just a thought.