Ephesians 4:32 ESV
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Forgiveness can be very difficult, especially if someone betrayed you so bad that the relationship is beyond repair. Yet that is what Jesus asks of us. Mark 11:25 tells us “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” When I hear this, it makes me want to run around forgiving everyone I possibly can. If forgiving people helps me to be forgiven by the Father, then who else can I find to forgive? The gymnastics teacher who called me “dumb as a brick” in high school. The dentist who told me I had buck teeth in middle school. Maybe the girl who stole my erasers back in kindergarten. I will forgive everything that I never was able to in the past if it means God will forgive me for all the wrong that I have done too.
But it’s not always that easy, is it?
Sometimes it’s even hard to tell whether you have truly forgiven someone or not. Someone once told me to pray for the people who I want to forgive. If it is hard to pray good things for them, to bless them, then that can give insight as to whether we actually have forgiven them or not. This really opened my eyes when I realized it was still hard to pray for those who had betrayed me the deepest. Some of these I really thought I had already forgiven. Try it out for yourself and see what happens.
Current studies have recently shown that unforgiveness can be a risk to our health. It can contribute to anxiety, depression, even heart disease. Forgiveness, on the other hand, calms our system and takes us out of fight-or-flight mode. I pray God opens all our eyes today to the unforgiveness that is still lingering in our hearts.
Matthew 6:15 ESV
15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 18:21-22 ESV
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.