When I talk about forgiveness, I’m not saying that you make light of the wrongs done to you. You may have been hurt by people who should instead have loved you and protected you. Those are terrible hurts, and they are wrong.
Also, forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the relationship can be restored. There are people you may need to forgive, but you know there can never be a relationship between the two of you again. There may be people you need to forgive who are no longer alive, but you still are harboring unforgiveness toward them.
Forgiveness is probably the hardest thing we are asked—no, we are commanded—to do as followers of Jesus Christ. But you can learn to forgive. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you can grow in your ability to forgive. That is, if you want to.
I’ve given you two reasons that you can’t afford not to forgive.
Here’s number three: You will lose the glory and grace that comes to you when you are willing to forgive.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” And Hebrews 12:15 says you will miss the grace of God if you allow bitterness to grow because of unforgiveness.
Now this means that God is far more pleased when you overlook an offense—when you are willing to forgive someone, someone who probably doesn’t deserve your forgiveness but you forgive them anyway. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Jesus knows it’s not easy to forgive. He is the greatest example of forgiving people who don’t deserve it when he prayed from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He understands the challenge of forgiveness!
When you forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, who probably hasn’t asked for it, who even continues to do what hurts you, you are learning to forgive like Jesus did. God the Father is pleased and you bring glory to him when you do something that is so difficult to do. It is to your glory and it brings glory to God, and that kind of forgiveness opens the door for the grace of God—his unmerited favor—to be showered on you. You don’t want to miss that, do you? You can’t afford not to forgive when you look at it from God’s perspective.