05. Problems with Forgiveness

Note: These scenarios are not gender-specific. Depending on the sex of the person reading this, male and female roles can be switched.

You were best friends with a particular lady until she betrayed your confidence. You were so badly hurt by her actions that you ceased all communication with her. A week ago, however, you heard a preacher give a brilliant talk on forgiveness that inspired you to forgive her. But now you've just walked into a party where you see her sitting at a table, her back to you, and you feel the hurt and the bitterness rise in your chest like bile. This is what you do:

a. You promptly turn and make for the exit.

b. You join the party, taking the table farthest away from her, and make it a point never to look in her direction.

c. You smile at her coldly if you happen to catch her eye, and then ignore her for the rest of the evening.

d. You go up to her, shake her hand, and tell her it's nice to see her again; then make it a point to say bye as you leave.

Of all the situations we will list in this series, this is the one that most of us will find the hardest to face. It is tough to forgive people. There are a few fundamental truths, however, that will help you forgive those who have hurt you if you realize them. I share them with you here:

  1. Jesus said: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15). Understand this truth. If we want God to be merciful to us, we need to be merciful to others.
  2. God has forgiven us for far worse things than anybody has ever done to us. It does not matter that we might not have killed or raped anybody. Multiply the number of "little" sins you commit each day by the number of days in a year, and multiply that by your age, and you will see the phenomenal debt you have accumulated over your lifetime!
  3. We also hurt people constantly. But we expect those we hurt to forgive us, and more than that, expect them to keep no record of the harm we have done them either. Is it too much to expect you to do the same? Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31).
  4. Many people are spiritually challenged. Just as you would be sympathetic towards somebody mentally or physically challenged, you should be empathetic to those who aren't spiritually mature. They don't know better. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
  5. Forgiveness brings healing. The wounds caused by people won't even begin to heal unless you get yourself to forgive them their sins. Wounds left untended by unforgiveness will then fester and infect not only your soul but your body as well.
  6. The enemy doesn't want you to forgive anybody because he thrives on the hatred, anger, and bitterness that unforgiveness brings. If you’re going to live like a faithful Christian and end the reign of the evil one, don't give him an inch of square space to walk on.

In the options listed above, (a) might seem extreme, but I’ve seen people walk out of a party when they spot someone they dislike. Options (b) and (c) are exercised more commonly; the result is usually an evening of pain rather than enjoyment. Option (d) is exercised most rarely, not only because it requires extreme courage to walk up to someone, even if it is only to say hello, but also because it leaves you open to the genuine danger of being snubbed that few want to risk. But if you choose this option, you can rest assured that you did the best thing in God's eyes and that he will bless you for it.


  1. Forgive as you have been forgiven: Recognize the immense debt of sin that God has forgiven you, and extend that same forgiveness to others who have wronged you. 
  2. Treat others as you wish to be treated: Remember that you also hurt people, intentionally or unintentionally. Extend to others the same grace and forgiveness that you desire for yourself.
  3. Be patient with the spiritually immature: Show compassion and understanding towards those who may not be as spiritually mature, recognizing that their hurtful actions may stem from a lack of understanding.
  4. Seek healing through forgiveness: Understand that forgiveness is essential for your own healing and well-being. Holding onto bitterness and resentment will only cause further harm to your soul and body.
  5. Resist the enemy's influence: Recognize that unforgiveness is a tool of the enemy to breed hatred, anger, and bitterness. Choose forgiveness as an act of obedience to God and resistance against the enemy's schemes.
  6. Take courageous steps: Be willing to take bold, brave steps in extending forgiveness, even if it means risking rejection or discomfort. Trust that God will honor and bless your obedience.

Forgiveness is one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian life, but it is also one of the most essential. By recognizing the depth of God's forgiveness towards us, extending that same grace to others, and understanding the spiritual and emotional benefits of forgiveness, we can overcome the hurdles that hinder us from truly forgiving those who have hurt us. As we take courageous steps in obedience to God's command to forgive, we will experience the healing, freedom, and blessing that come from living in alignment with his will.