There is a song by a popular Christian band, Tenth Avenue North, called Losing. The entire song is about trying to find the grace to forgive someone that has wronged the singer. To listen to the song and watch the official video, click here.
Sometimes it really does take the grace of God to allow us to forgive. We must ask Him to help us so we may reap the benefits of living in the Kingdom. Moving on from hurt and pain through the act of forgiveness can be so difficult...especially if we try and do it the way the Bible says we should.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-17
15 - "Moreover, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
16 - "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 - "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."
That is pretty strong language and I wonder just how well the steps above would go over in today's modern world. The problem would not be going to the one that wronged us to begin with. We have all done that from time to time when we have been offended or hurt by someone. But...what happens if that person does not hear us out and we bring two people back with us? What would happen if that didn't work to smooth things out and we then stood in front of our local church body and attempted to talk with this person and we tell the church body what he or she has done to offend us? Today's society would not accept this as an acceptable method of problem resolution. It would be seen as demeaning and humiliating for the guilty party and we would be seen as the bad guy for even suggesting that we resolve problems this way.
Jesus ended his instruction on this subject with some rather strong language stating that if the problem could not be resolved even through the church body, then the person that has wronged us was to be as a heathen to us. Someone we don't associate with. In fact, in another passage we are actually told NOT to associate with those that know right, but do wrong. Paul said to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
9 - I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep [associate] company with sexually immoral people.
10 - Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually imoral people of this world, or with the covetous, Or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
11 - But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covertous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner - not even to eat with such a person.
It is my opinion that the term reviler here refers to the brother or sister who has committed wrongs against fellow brothers and sisters and does not show repentance to repair relationships. Wow. So, does this mean we do not forgive? No, absolutely not. We can still forgive the person, but we should be obedient to the Word. Colossians says:
12 - Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
13 - bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Must is not an optional word. Must is an emphatic action command which leaves us little choice in the matter...since we are the elect of God. So, even though we are being reviled, even though we are being hurt, even though one of the ladies in the ladies group has allowed Satan to use her to start a vicious rumor, we are to forgive. It is in our best interests to forgive. The healthy status of soul and spirit depend on it.
1 John 2
2 - Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
We cannot allow the enemy [who comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10)] to defeat us in the deceptive practice of harboring and nursing unforgiveness. We will prosper in the spirit, we will prosper in our souls, our minds will begin to think more positive thoughts and we can begin to be the light and salt of the earth to a lost and dying world.
If you are harboring unforgiveness against someone for something right now, please ask the Lord to give you the grace to forgive the offender(s). There is great joy in freedom.