To Forgive Or Not To Forgive

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I don’t believe the Lord heaps rules on people fighting cancer. But if I could venture one requirement, it would be this: forgive those who hurt you. If your battle is anything like mine, there are many opportunities to forgive. People say and do some insensitive things when they try to “help.” Some have no clue what you are going through, but they say they do. Some tell you about their third cousin who just died of the cancer you have. Gee, thanks for sharing that! Others simply stay away. During my battle, I expected more of close friends. I really needed them, so when they let me down, it hurt more. My primary doctor dropped the ball several times. Twice he said during appointments, “Whatever it is, it isn’t cancer. It’s too soft to be cancer. It’s just a cyst.” Later, I was assured by his receptionist that the results of a critical test were great, that I had nothing to worry about, when the exact opposite was true. I didn’t find out the correct results until almost a month later, when I took my sick daughter to this doctor. From a human standpoint, my doctor’s compounding of errors almost cost my life.

So I have a choice, to hold things against those who have hurt me, or let it go. Here are our motivations to forgive:

1) Imitate Christ in being forgiving.
We can look to Jesus Christ Himself. He set the tone for forgiveness for all time as He hung on the cross and said, “Forgive them Father for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:24). If He could forgive those who crucified Him on that humiliating cross, then we can forgive anyone, for anything.

2) Forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
If Jesus can forgive us, then we can forgive others.“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

3) Forgive because we’ve been forgiven so much more by God!
In Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus told a long parable about a guy who was forgiven an outlandish amount of money ($6 billion in our money today), but did not extend that forgiveness to someone who owed him a tiny sum ($10,000). It’s humbling to think how overwhelmingly indebted we are to Christ for forgiving our multitude of sins. It is a small thing to follow Him in forgiving others.

4) We hurt ourselves when we don’t forgive.
Maybe a consequence of unforgiveness will inspire us to forgive. We hurt ourselves when we don’t forgive. Notice in this verse that it is not wrong to be angry, only allowing anger to linger. Let it go, Joe. Let it go. Don’t give the devil a foothold. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 3:26-27).

5) We’ve been insensitive ourselves.
Honestly, I have said and done some really insensitive things to those who are suffering, including staying away. Who am I to cast stones? Can you relate?
For more on forgiveness, we have a new resource on our website – A free Bible Study on forgiving others. Click here.

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