We’ve all experienced pain.
There have been times when people hurt us so badly–emotionally or physically–that we don’t see how we can forgive them. All we can think about is getting even with them.
Today, I want to share with you three reasons why Christians need to forgive.
1. God Forgave Us First
When we sin, we isolate ourselves from God. God cannot associate with sinners like us because he is holy.
However, God did not leave us to die in our sin. Rather, he gave us a way to restore our relationship with him.
Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, we can have eternal life with God when we die. We have to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone as the only way to heaven. Jesus Himself said, “‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
When Jesus died on the cross, he was paying the punishment we deserve. Now he sits at the right hand of God, interceding for us on our behalf, so God will forgive us for our sins.
Why did God do this? Why did he provide a way for us to be saved? Why does he forgive us when we sin against Him?
It’s because he loves us so much. That’s all it is: love. We don’t do anything to deserve it. How can we? Our sin, after all, put him on the cross in the first place.
No, it was not because of anything we’ve ever done or ever could do. It was simply because he loved us.
If Jesus forgives us out of love, we need to forgive others even when we don’t want to.
We need to forgive because God first forgave us.
2. “Revenge is Mine,” Declares the Lord
“Just wait…I’m going to get you for this.”
Yes, we’re hurt. Yes, we’re angry. Yes, we don’t want to let the person who hurt us go unpunished.
But is it our job to take revenge?
In Romans 12:19, it says, “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.”
There will be a time when God punishes unsaved people for their sins. However, if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we won’t go to hell, to the eternal place of torture and punishment. We’ll be in heaven with God himself! What a joyful time that will be!
That said, we don’t want others to suffer the punishment for their sins. Forgiving them is one way we can show them God’s love. It might even open an opportunity for you to witness to them!
As Christians, we’re supposed to be reflecting God’s love to other people. How can we do that if we’re full of hate and anger?
Next time you’re having those feelings of revenge, stop and think about how much God loves you–how much he has forgiven you.
3. Failing to Forgive is Sin
When we don’t forgive others, we sin against God. We should forgive not only because we are commanded to, but also because 1) it hinders our relationship and fellowship with that person, 2) it proves an open door for Satan, and 3) it leads to bitterness.
Whether we realize it or not, failing to forgive others not only hurts us, but the others around us. It hurts God, too, because we are sinning against Him.
But here’s the thing: forgiveness is not natural. Godly people struggle with forgiveness. Forgiveness is not something we feel; rather, it’s a choice we have to make.
Don’t Hesitate to Forgive
When we treat others as though we’ve forgiven them, soon we will genuinely love and care for them.
C. S. Lewis writes, in his book Mere Christianity, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him [page 101].”
Make today the day you choose to forgive the person who hurt you. Don’t delay another minute. Don’t let all that bitterness and thoughts of revenge boil up inside you until you’re miserable.
Choose to forgive today, and soon, you will learn to love that person again.