Family Life, Prayer & Devotion

Forgiving Others

Mother with children ashore on sunsetWhat’s harder to do? To ask for forgiveness or to forgive? I find myself asking my children for forgiveness all the time. For any parent, the act of going to your child and asking them for forgiveness for a specific wrong you have committed against them is surely a pride-killer. But, sometimes, I think that being in the position to forgive someone else seems to be the more difficult thing to do.

When any of my children ask me for forgiveness, and I am still trying to get my thoughts and emotions under control, a number of things go through my mind that would tempt me to withhold forgiveness.

  • Do they really mean it?
  • Are they just saying it to avoid the disciplinary consequences?
  • They are going to do the same thing again.
  • If I forgive them, they will think what they did is ok.
  • They have hurt me, so now, I want them to feel it too.

Perhaps you have been in my shoes. The offender may have been your child. Or someone else. Perhaps it was a small offense that has been repeated over and over again, and you’re just tired of it. Perhaps it was a greater offense, the unthinkable and even the unforgivable. Do we ever have a right to withhold forgiveness? Can a wrong done against us be so great that we can be exempt from having to forgive the offending party?

Such thoughts may have been on Peter’s mind when he asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Why seven? In those times, the number 7 was understood to mean completeness or fullness. But Jesus’ response was remarkable. “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22). Peter gave Jesus a number that was supposed to be the maximum, but Jesus commanded him to go above and beyond that maximum. In other words, there ought to be no limit to our forgiveness of others.

After Jesus answered Peter, He told the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (v. 23-35). To summarize, the story was of a servant who owed a king a ridiculous sum of money, the equivalent of about 200,000 years’ wages. Facing the consequence of being sold along with his family and possessions, he begged the king for mercy. But after the king forgave him of all his debt, this servant sent another servant to prison because of a considerably smaller amount (only 100 days’ wages) owed him.

The king is God, and we are that servant. In our sin, we have incurred a debt that is impossible for us to pay back. In God’s kindness, He pardoned us from any obligation and accepted Christ’s death on the cross as the only sufficient payment. Surely there is no mistaking that we have been forgiven much. But, in our relationships with one another, people will, no doubt, offend us, and they will incur a debt with us. When we see that next to the immensely larger debt that God released us from, how can we refuse to forgive another?

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)


(Photo credit: Wirawat Lian-udom)

21 thoughts on “Forgiving Others”

  1. Reblogged this on Our Adoption Voyage and commented:
    I am always greatly encouraged by this blog, especially this post on forgiveness. It was an excellent reminder on the forgiveness we have in Jesus and powerful encouragement to love and forgive under any circumstance. I hope you are encouraged by her words the way I was!

    1. My husband taught on forgiveness for our bible study group, and that’s one of the passages that he highlighted. It’s a passage I’ve read many times before, but hearing it again that night felt like a ton of bricks.

  2. Love this! It’s so important to ask forgiveness from your children because you are not only seeking to right a wrong but you are also teaching them an important lesson for life on what it means to humble themselves and asking for forgiveness when they should. My parent have both asked me for forgiveness throughout my life for things and I’ve always really respected them and learned so much from them because of it.

    1. I never had that example as a child. My parents are great, but they never spoke to us on that level. The first time I had to ask my own child for forgiveness, it was truly humbling, but God used it as an opportunity for me to share the gospel with my child.

  3. God has forgiven me much, I have forgiven myself much, and I have forgiven others much (including key people who never acknowledged their need for it). But, the key thread is forgiveness. As Nike says, we need to just do it. It makes all the difference.

    1. Yes, it makes a world of difference! Barriers are broken down that we thought would remain forever. The biggest barrier was between us and God because of our sin. Praise The Lord that He has torn the veil that keep us from boldly approaching His throne! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It’s wonderful to rejoice with others!

      1. As usual, you always have something amazing to share friend. I like the comment you said about Jesus forgiving those who were torturing and killing him. What wrong can anyone do to us that would be worse than that! He was such an excellent example for us even to His dying breath! I have struggled to forgive those who don’t acknowledge a grevious wrong. I heard this old saying that I have above my desk. “Unforgiveness is like eating rat poison, then expecting the rat to die.” Unforgiveness truly does poison our own heart.

  4. This is something I have struggled with and have been able to teach on often. I find that forgiving comes in layers. Some days can be great and then others can be such a challenge where I feel like a toddler having a complete meltdown saying, “I don’t want too!!!!” Especially with particular people. People who might hurt you over and over. It can be so difficult, but the freedom you receive when you forgive someone is a joy that is unexplainable. We get to take on a part of God’s character at that time. He wants us to forgive because He doesn’t want anything to hinder us with Him and with other people created in His Own Image. He wants to protect our hearts. I think about how me forgiving another who has wronged me shows them the love and forgiveness of God. That is such a hard, but breathtaking way to be used by God. What an honor! Thank you for writing this. I am in a season with someone and forgiveness feels so hard at times, but I know there is nothing anyone can do that I should withhold forgiveness from. God is healing my heart and for that I am so thankful. I have learned that with the action of love most often forgiveness follows close behind.

    Can I reblog this friend? I am moved by you words.

    1. Forgiveness can be such a tough pill for us to swallow, but you are absolutely right … when we obey The Lord and forgive others, we feel free! I’m thankful that even in our struggle to forgive, God takes us back to the cross and shows us how Christ suffered, and yet He could still say about those who were hurting Him, “Father, forgive them.”
      And, of course, you can reblog. God bless you!

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