“I forgive, but I cannot forget.” We hear this a lot. People are willing to forgive but are not willing to forget. Some people will carry grudges for a long time, and some will do that throughout their whole lives. This is so serious that people can really get sick for unforgiveness. Physical illnesses are related to lack of forgiveness, and emotional dysfunction, but what is most important are the spiritual consequences. Unforgiveness damages our relationship with God when we have a bad attitude toward our brother and sister who offended us.
The challenge with this aspect of our Christian life is that we all know what we have to do. Every Christian knows that he or she must forgive each other. Unfortunately some of us cannot forgive and others do not want to forgive. This is it. Some of us do not have the strength in ourselves to forgive someone who wronged us. The pain is too big or the wounds are still open. They just cannot do it. On the other hand, some of us are not willing to do it. We made a decision to keep that offense alive, and we want to see the person suffer for what he or she did.
Paul wrote to the Colosse church about this. Here is what he said: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13.” Paul is telling the Colosse brothers and sisters that they had to get rid of their old clothes and put on new clothe, and forgiveness is part of this new vestment that we have in Christ. This helps us to understand that those virtues are in us in a seed form. We need to water and nurture them so they can grow. We will not be able to forgive everybody who wronged us from the get-go. That is impossible. We need to understand that this is a growing process and it will take time.
In another letter, Paul adds something else: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19.” There are a few lessons in this text that will help us to be forgiving. The first one is about us. Paul says that we should “make every effort.” Peace will not come easy, and restoration of relationships will not happen out of no where. It demands work, dedication, and sacrifice. This is what Paul is saying to the Romans and to us. Forgiveness demands effort, all of it. The other aspect is the “mutual edification.” People do things to us and hurt us because they do not or did not have maturity enough to understand and to recognize that what they did was wrong. We who are mature should forgive them and help them to grow. One day they will find out, but for now our attitude should be to forgive.
Jesus said: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other. Mark 9:50” The word from our Lord is “be at peace with each other.” If you and I cannot be reconciled, it will not be because of me. We should be the ones who will stop the war and animosity. I am not saying that it will not be difficult, but we need to take the first steps. Jesus is saying that if we want to make a difference, we should start with being at peace with each other.
Have a blessed week,