Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
When someone hurts you – I mean really hurts you – it can take a very long time to allow forgiveness in. Why is it we tend to wallow in our emotional pain and anger? We were hurt, so we want to stay mad.
I understand this tendency when we are wronged in some dramatic or terrible way. Unfortunately, those things happen. It takes huge doses of courage for parents to forgive their child’s killer, or for an abuse victim to forgive their abuser. I can’t say for sure I would have that kind of courage.
But, what about when we’re hurt by a series of small things – arguments, thoughtless comments, exclusion? Small things can add up. But, can we forgive and move on, especially when a friendship is at stake?
For the sake of our relationships, forgiveness is essential. Friendships aren’t perfect because we are imperfect. We all start arguments, say thoughtless things, exclude people at times. We are in a constant battle between selfishness and selflessness, pride and humility. To keep from building walls between us, we have to humble ourselves when we are wrong and say, “I’m sorry.” And we have to be able to forgive when wronged. The longer we wait, the higher and stronger the wall that’s built, until it’s near impossible to break it down.
As Christ-followers, we are called to forgive as we were forgiven by Christ. We are to extend infinite grace and forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we agree with or condone the other person’s actions. But, it does mean that we care enough to talk through issues and work out solutions together.
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22
Lack of forgiveness affects not only you and the relationship with the person you refuse to forgive, but it affects those around you who watch you pile on brick and mortar.
Christ was a carpenter, not a mason. He didn’t build walls, but bridges.