You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
Matthew 5:38-46 NLT
It’s easier said than done to forgive someone who has wronged you. For simple offenses, it could simply be accepting someone’s apology and then moving on. But even as simple a task, may not be so easy. We start to second guess people’s motives and wonder if they were really sincere. The next interaction we have with them, they don’t seem any different and certainly not any better. Our minds quickly go to thoughts like, “If she was really sorry when I forgave her last week, she would not have acted similarly today.” We often second-guess the sincerity of others, which then gives us a reason to hold on to the offense.
It becomes even more difficult when people hurt us on a deeper level. We say things like “Fool me twice, shame on me”—in other words, we would be a fool to give that person a second chance. We have to guard ourselves from harboring un-forgiveness. Jesus says to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are unable to love unless we forgive. Offense can keep a person bound for years as a prisoner.
For an example, when someone takes something from us without our consent, we get furious. They may even try to manipulate the money out of us. But the Bible tells us, if a person steals $100 from you, turn around and give them another $100 more. We feel much better if the $100 is a gift that we have given voluntarily. By giving the money voluntarily, we don’t carry the feeling that it is lost. Do anything you can to prevent lost and offense.
Forgiveness is hard work. We have to find a way to forgive others, whether they ask for it or not. Whatever the offense is we must forgive and release them. Therefore we are free from the pain or hurt of the offense. Once we release them, we have no expectation from them at all, regarding the original offense. Remember, forgiveness does not justify the offense, nor does not it provide God’s forgiveness for their actions, for only God can do that. Forgiving others molds the path for our own healing to begin.
Holy Spirit, help me to forgive those who have caused me pain. Heal my emotions that have been wounded and teach me how to love unconditionally. Continue to extend Your love and mercy toward me. Please remind me daily to use Your power living on the inside of me which helps me in all things. Lord, help me to forget the past so that I can move forward to the future.