By Ananda Peters 
on Friday, May 10, 2019

We can be friends with God because He forgave our sins. Jesus took our consequences on the cross and now even though we still mess up sometimes and struggle with sin, we can repent and get right with God because He has forgiven us.

So one part of forgiveness is God forgiving us. But another really big part of forgiveness is that He expects us to forgive others.

Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV) tells us this story: “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

We see from that passage that it’s really important to God that we forgive people who hurt us. Forgiveness is a choice we make, even when we don’t feel like it. The best way to overcome bad feelings for someone is to start praying for them. Forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. Trust is earned. So if somebody hurts our feelings and keeps doing it, we still need to forgive them. We choose to let go and to love that person but it doesn’t mean we want to trust them right away with our hearts.

The biggest reason we forgive is to obey God. He forgave us so we forgave others. Another big reason to forgive is that when we hold onto those things, it holds us back. We can’t follow Jesus very well when we’re holding onto anger against someone.

Is there somebody in your life that you need to forgive? Tell God that you choose to forgive that person or those people, and then picture yourself letting go of that thing or those things that you’ve been holding onto. Just let that go and tell God that you are making a choice to walk in love toward the person or people that hurt you.

Forgiveness is tough but if we can get past the idea that we have to feel forgiveness, we realize it how simple it actually is. Let your will, not your feelings, lead the way. Forgiveness is a choice we are all able to make, even when our hearts are broken in pieces.  Make the choice, then start praying regularly for that person. Times when I’ve walked through this process, I often feel like I am praying through clenched teeth at first and my prayer usually goes something like this, “God, change them. Make them see how selfish they are. Make them stop being like that.” But then when I open my Bible and start praying God’s word over them, my heart starts to soften toward that person. Usually, until they do something else that irritates me and the process starts again! But what if that person who feels like a thorn in your side is actually an assignment from God? What if God is letting them get under your skin so you can pray and stand in the gap for them? Something to think about.


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