by Rick Warren — April 20, 2019
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15 NIV).
But you’ll never have the life God wants for you unless you can forgive the people who have hurt you. Here are three reasons why it’s essential to forgive others:
We forgive because God has forgiven us. When you come to Christ, your sins aren’t just forgiven. They’re wiped out! God has no record of your sins anymore.
The Bible says, “There is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 TLB).
Each person faces a vicious circle, where you want to change, but you make a mistake and feel bad about it. Then you try again, fail, and feel bad about it again. It’s a cycle that you likely won’t break until you learn to offer forgiveness to people who have hurt you because you have been offered forgiveness yourself through Christ.
We forgive because resentment will make us miserable. Holding on to a hurt is like drinking poison and hoping it kills the person you hate. It always hurts you more than it hurts the other person.
I know people who continue to be hurt by individuals they haven’t seen in decades. That’s just foolish. Those people can’t hurt you anymore without your permission.
You can choose to be happy, or you can hang on to hurt. You can’t do both.
We forgive because we’ll need more forgiveness in the future. You’re not done making mistakes. I’m not either. I plan on making a few more mistakes over the rest of my life. And, of course, I’ll need someone to forgive me when I do!
Someone once came to 18th-century British theologian John Wesley and told him about a person he couldn’t forgive. Wesley told the man, “Then I hope you never sin.”
We can’t receive what we’re unwilling to give others. Jesus says it like this: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15 NIV).
Forgiving people who have hurt you isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.