Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. – Luke 23:34
I’ve been reading about forgiveness this week, in The Peacemaker by Ken Sande.
The author made the point that it is possible – and we should make it a goal – to forgive others as God has forgiven us, as taught in the parable of the unmerciful servant.
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? – Matthew 18:32-33
Though it’s usually easy for me to forgive those who apologize and seek forgiveness, it’s not so easy to forgive someone who shows no desire for reconciliation, or is unaware that they have “done me wrong.”
In my heart and mind, though I sincerely want to forgive that person, their wrongdoing is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of them.
To forgive once and for all, Sande suggests studying in depth how God forgives, and following His pattern. (I’m loosely and briefly paraphrasing Sande’s wise comments below).
First, consider this: when we place our faith in Christ for our salvation, God no longer sees our sin. He looks at us through the veil of Christ’s blood.
The payment for our sin has been paid. God doesn’t ask that we pay installments on it, ever. And he doesn’t bring up our sins again.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:12
As our Father does, we should look at those whom we have a difficult time forgiving as already forgiven by Him – created in His image, beloved by Him, and freely offered His mercy and love, just as we have been.
Next, recall that God focuses on our potential. His goal is our Christian perfection. He lovingly encourages us to keep pressing heavenward, rather than wallowing in past failures.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:19
When we think of someone who has wronged us, we can follow that pattern: recognize the good things they have done. Consider the best character traits and their kindest actions.
Pray for them!
As today’s first Scripture reminds us, Christ didn’t rail against his tormentors. Instead, He focused on their ignorance in the acts they performed against Him, and He asked his Father to forgive them!
We can certainly ask Jesus, Who understands forgiveness better than anyone else, to transform our thoughts and feelings toward someone we’re having a tough time forgiving.
Have you ever had a hard time forgiving someone? I welcome your comments.