by Rick Warren — October 9, 2018
”For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV).
You say, “Why in the world should I forgive that person who hurt me so much? You have no idea how much they hurt me. Why should I offer grace to that person?”
Let me offer three reasons for making that choice:
- Be gracious to others and forgive those who’ve hurt you because God has been gracious to you.
You will never have to forgive anyone else more than Jesus Christ has already forgiven you. Remember that you haven’t always gotten what you deserved, either. God has been gracious with you. Now choose to be gracious with others.
- Forgive others because the alternative is bitterness.
Scientists tell us that resentment is the unhealthiest emotion there is. It always hurts you more than anybody else! Resentment will not change the past, and it won’t solve the problem. It doesn’t even make you feel better. In fact, it makes you feel worse.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12:15, “Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others” (PHILLIPS).
- Show grace to and forgive others because God wants you to do it.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV). Jesus says we cannot receive what we are unwilling to give. If you say, “I could never forgive that person,” then I hope you never sin. If you just don’t feel like doing it, do it anyway, because it’s the right thing to do.
One reason you may have a hard time forgiving others is because you don’t feel forgiven. Would you pray this prayer of liberation and freedom in your heart?
“Dear Jesus Christ, you know I’ve been hurt by others. You know that my resentment has made me act in ways that have been unreasonable and unhelpful and unhealthy. I need your power to release and forgive those who’ve hurt me so I can stop letting them control me. Would you please replace my hurt with your peace? God, I realize that I’ve hurt a lot of other people with my habits and my bad decisions and my hang-ups. Would you please forgive me for the way I’ve hurt others? Help me to make a list of those I’ve harmed and to humbly seek to make amends in the right way and at the right time. Jesus Christ, I want to refocus my life on you. I want to face the future courageously with love and peace in my heart. Would you replace my resentment with your love, my bitterness with your grace? Thank you for your graciousness to me. Thank you for forgiving me for the wrong things that I’ve done. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Perhaps you need to go a step further. Have you trusted Jesus for your salvation?
No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you can have a place in God’s forever family ready and waiting for you. The invitation is wide open. Just believe and receive.
Are you ready? Here’s a prayer you can start with —
“Dear God, I know that when I die I’m going to give an account of my life to you directly. I confess that I have ignored you. I know I have sinned against you, and I have lived by my plan, not yours. I want that to change, starting right now. I want to turn away from my sins and move toward you.
“Thank you for sending Jesus to die for all that I’ve done wrong so that I don’t have to pay the penalty. I know that I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I know that only your grace can save me, Lord. I could never be good enough to get into a perfect place.
“Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that you took all my guilt on yourself. You made me acceptable for heaven, and I humbly ask you to save me. I ask you to save me from the sins and the habits that are messing up my life right now. I believe in you, Jesus. And I believe that you will keep your promise to save me instantly and certainly and completely and eternally. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, please write and tell me at [email protected]. I’d love to send you some materials as you begin your journey with Jesus.