054. What Do I Do When I Can’t Forgive Someone? (Part 1)

11 Jul, 2012

We all have people we can’t forgive.  Sometimes it’s for something simple like they were mean to you.  Sometimes it’s larger like they cheated on you.  And sometimes it’s massive… like creating the Star Wars Prequels.

So before reading on, think of those people that you hold something against – that person that you just can’t forgive.  Maybe a family member, an ex, friend, coworker, neighbor or enemy. So as Christians, what should our response be to that person? Take a look at these verses and something pops out…

Eph 4[32] Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Col 3[13] Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

We have to put things into perspective.  When we sin against each other it’s kinda like fifty bucks worth of sins.  It seems like a lot – but you have to compare it to how much we have sinned against God. We have a lifetime of sin against God.  We sin over and over each day against God – that’s like fourteen trillion dollars worth of sin. 

And guess what?  He forgives us. How much more should we be able to forgive someone who sins against us a few times?

There’s a parable that I’ll paraphrase… One dude owed the King ten million dollars and couldn’t pay.  He begged the King to forgive his debt and the King agreed.  Later, that dude then went to his friend who owed him ten bucks and when the friend couldn’t pay, the friend begged to be forgiven of the debt.  The dude said no and had his friend thrown into debtors prison. The King found out about what the dude had done and said, “I forgave you of ten million dollars and you couldn’t forgive someone of ten bucks?”  The King then threw that dude into prison.

No matter how much someone has sinned against us, it doesn’t even begin to compare to the amount that we’ve sinned against God. When we don’t forgive someone… we take God’s forgiveness and throw it back in His face.

So what do we do?

Think about anyone you have a hard time forgiving. Now think about God doing the same to you – not forgiving you. You would want Him to forgive you – and He’s perfect.  How much more should imperfect people forgive other imperfect people.

Sometimes we feel so wronged, that we can’t truly forgive them in our heart.  But identifying that you have a hard time forgiving someone is the first step to actually working on it.

Forgiving someone is less about them and more about your own heart.

And you know what?  Some of these things will take time.  Our hearts rarely change overnight.  You may have to ask God for a compassionate heart a ton of times – which may be a process that takes months or years. So if you want to get better at forgiving, keep praying that your heart will change – that it’ll become more like Christ’s own forgiving heart that forgives us for the sins the commit everyday.

To cover all the bases in your prayer… praise him for his forgiving nature, thank him for his forgiveness, confess for not forgiving and ask that your heart will become more Christ-like so you can can forgive. And yes, that means we should even forgive George Lucas for the Star Wars Prequels.

MT 18:23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. [24] As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. [25] Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. MT 18:26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,’ he begged, `and I will pay back everything.’ [27] The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. MT 18:28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. MT 18:29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ MT 18:30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. [31] When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. MT 18:32 “Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. [33] Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ [34] In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. MT 18:35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Take time to pray: Ask God for forgiveness for your unforgiveness for others. Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness.

Read Part II