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Pointers along the way #95

What forgiving others is not
- Jacob Ninan

Sometimes an unrealistic perception of what it means to forgive others may make it look as if it is beyond our ability, and actually stop us from going ahead and forgiving them. Let us start by believing that if God asks us to forgive, He certainly thinks it is possible for us to do it.

What God asks us to do is to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven us (Ep.4:32;Co.3:13). He has forgiven us out of His mercy, as a free gift (Ep.2:4,8). 1. We didn't deserve it. 2. It was unreasonable, after all the things we had done against Him. 3. He had to suffer in order to forgive us. He loved us, and therefore He forgave us.

As a Man, Jesus forgave even when people did not repent (Lk.23:34). This is how we have to forgive. God does not forgive unless people repent. We just have to leave judgment for God to decide (Ro.12:19).

But sometimes we tend to be unrealistic with regard to forgiveness.

Many people think that we have to forgive and forget. Anyone who tries this will come to see that the more we try to forget, the more it gets imprinted in our mind. When God forgives us, He does not forget our sins. What He promises to do is not to remember them (He.8:12). It means that He will not bring them up and hold them against us any more.

When we forgive someone, what we do is to let go of the hold we have on him because of the sin he has done against us. It is basically a choice we make in our will. It doesn't mean we think that what he has done is all right. He still has to repent or face the judgment of God. While Jesus forgave those who crucified Him, they still had to face judgment for their sins.

We may take time to get over feeling hurt over what someone has done to us, even after we have forgiven him. We can't wait to feel good before we decide to forgive. But when we choose to forgive, our feelings towards him will start changing, and we may start praying for him.

After we have forgiven someone we don't necessarily become friends with him as if nothing has happened. It also depends on him. We wish he would repent and get right with God. But if he doesn't change, we have to be wise in our dealings with him if we don't want to get hurt again.

On the other hand, our demonstration of forgiveness may be the thing that convicts him and causes him to repent, just as in the case of Jesus and us. But in some cases it may be necessary to let him know that he needs to set things right, just as the Corinthian church did to the man living in sin. We need wisdom.

God wants us to lighten our load as we walk along life's way. One good way to do that is to give away grudges, malice, vengeance, bitterness, etc., and to soothe our minds with mercy and kindness.