Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:5-13), He made it clear that we should acknowledge God with honor and respect as we submit to His will. Prayer also gives us a forum to ask God for what we need, including forgiveness and deliverance from sin. Jesus ended the Lord’s prayer by acknowledging that all belongs to God, including the power and the glory. By accepting this, we draw closer to God as we learn to lead more spiritually fulfilling lives.
So why then, is forgiveness the only conditional statement found in the Lord’s prayer? Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus goes into more detail in verses 14-15 when He said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” It’s pretty clear that in the eyes of God, forgiving each other is essential… but why?
Why is forgiveness so important?
Consider forgiveness as the release of pain… it’s what allows us to really let go of whatever or whomever has hurt us along with all of the emotions tied to the situations. In a world of full of sin, causing pain and disappointment, Jesus had the wisdom to know we would need to master the process of letting go. If not, pain and hurt would consume us, just like Judas, and we’d never be able to fully connect with God or anyone else.
By way of forgiveness, the light of God shines in our hearts and in our characters. Those around us are benefactors of God’s love, just like we are, even though we have done nothing to deserve it. Forgiveness isn’t about self-righteousness. It does not put us above anyone. If anything, forgiveness teaches us humility because we must do for others what we expect God to do for us. When we think of some of the things we’ve had to ask forgiveness for, we realize that failure and disappointment will happen. No one is immune to that, including ourselves.
So how do we forgive others when we feel angry?
- It’s important to understand the role of forgiveness in our lives. Forgiveness doesn’t require us to get back into broken relationships or friendships. It doesn’t mean that we should be okay with letting people treat us or others in a less than desirable manner. Instead, forgiveness allows us achieve peace while not stepping into a place of sin predicated upon someone else’s actions. Forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to let go of the pain and trust in God. We must choose to make showing God’s love more important than holding onto the anger. Romans 12:19-21 states:
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- When we forgive, we stop giving control of our emotions to others and/or sin. Whether it be the guilt we feel from our own actions, or the resentment we feel from the actions of those around us, we convince ourselves it’s okay to continue to hold onto the pain. It’s not. If anything, we have now given someone else the control. We can take it back through forgiveness or we can continue to make harmful decisions. Not forgiving others may seem okay in the beginning, but in the long-run, it is emotionally damaging to our well-being and our spiritual walk. We’re worth more than that. We deserve to have our hearts and minds filled with positivity and God’s love. It’s not always easy, but letting go of the anger opens us up to the vulnerability and joys of living this life. Embrace it. Understand it. Treasure it.
I can tell you that I have spent many years angry at people who have wronged me. In that anger and pain, I have made countless hurtful decisions and have struggled to forgive myself. I wanted to blame everyone else, but the truth is this, it was my choice to hold onto that pain… it was my choice to act out… and it had to be my choice to let it go. Forgiveness will always be your choice. Life is so much better when you let it go. Find peace in making that choice.Print This Devotional