Forgiving Those Who Trespass Against You
Ephesians 4:32 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Most would agree that forgiving does not come easy at times. Our imperfect condition of leaning toward our fallen state means that our natural desire is not to forgive. When we think of the world that surrounds us, we think of the chaos, the crime, the injustice, and the difficulties of life. When we contemplate the people of this imperfect world, we think of persons who are only out for themselves, greedy persons, persons that expect too much from others, and persons who look down on the underprivileged. Then some persons seem to lack any goodness, close friends, and family that would quickly betray us, persons, who are reckless, persons that are full of pride. There is little wonder that forgiveness is a quality that is lacking among humankind.
Yes, we have things outside of us that can contribute to an unforgiving spirit, but we also have some things within. The apostle Paul bewailed about himself, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:19-20) This is because all of us are mentally bent toward the doing of wrong, instead of the doing of good. (Gen 6:5; 8:21; Rom 5:12; Eph. 4:20-24; Col 3:5-11) Jeremiah the prophet informs us of the condition of our heart (our inner person), “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” These factors contribute to our being less forgiving than we may like.
One online person wrote, “I honestly won’t forgive someone for hurting me. Forgiving someone for their mistakes is like accepting them to do it all over again.” This may seem unfriendly, unfeeling, and even distrustful. However, it is the result of the wicked world that we live in, which is filled with hurt and disappointments. Another online comment from Yahoo Answers wrote, “I personally do not forgive because if they are truly sorry, then they should be sorry enough to accept the repercussions of their actions.”
Therefore, let us not assume that because we struggle to forgive, we are somehow worse than others are. No, we are probably more like others in this area. However, as Christians, we have a duty to be the looking for opportunities to forgive, and we must possess a forgiving spirit. The apostle Paul had advice for the Corinthian congregation, who was slow to forgive an unrepentant brother, who had been expelled for adultery. He exhorted them, “so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”
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