Forgiving from the Heart
“And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall my heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” – Matthew 18:34-35
Have you ever watched this scene played out? Two children are quarreling. One hits the other. The parent scolds them, and says, “Now, Johnny, say you’re sorry.” And little Johnny grimaces, and says reluctantly, “I’m sorry.” The parent turns to the other child expectantly. Little Jimmy also grimaces, and says, “It’s okay.” But there’s a look in Jimmy’s eye that tells you clearly that little Johnny had better watch out!
How often do we, as adults, do the same thing? Instead of truly forgiving “from the heart,” we tell the offending party that it’s okay … but inside, we harbor anger and resentment, making careful note of the infraction so that we can pull it out at a later date and use it as ammunition.
God forbids this attitude. He commands us to forgive “from the heart.” He warns us, “Forgiveness isn’t about lip service. It has to be real. Otherwise, I’m not accepting it.”
The fruits of true forgiveness are a restored relationship with the other person, a willingness to bury the incident and never bring it up again, and a sincere desire for the good of the other individual. That, after all, is what it means when God forgives us.
** Are you harboring anger, resentment, or grudges against anyone right now? If so, why? What steps do you need to take to resolve this situation?
** Do you currently need to ask anyone’s forgiveness for an offense? If so, why haven’t you done so yet? What steps do you need to take to resolve this situation?