Figuring Out Forgiveness
Bible Reading: Psalm 103:8-14
[The Lord] has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. Psalm 103:10
When Molly arrived at school on Monday morning, Mrs. Spencer asked everyone to take a seat in the hall. After the bell rang, she said, “Someone broke into our school over the weekend. We’re afraid that some of your things might be missing.”
As soon as Mrs. Spencer unlocked the classroom door, Molly ran to her desk and flipped open the lid. Her school stuff was all a-jumble—but everything was there. Then she remembered she had used her camera last week for yearbook club. She had hidden it in her desk over the weekend. And now it was gone.
The camera was easily Molly’s most treasured possession. She wasn’t just sad. She was as mad as a honeybee come home to an empty hive.
If you’ve ever faced a loss like Molly’s, you know that forgiving someone who hurts you is hard. And it’s even harder if you aren’t sure exactly what forgiveness is.
Check out these definitions. Forgiveness means
• to erase, to give up what is due
• to quit being resentful
• to wipe the slate clean, to release from a debt, to cancel punishment
• to give up all claims on the one who has hurt you and let go of the emotional consequences of that hurt
Forgiveness means more than mumbling “I forgive you.” It involves letting go of your hurts. It includes putting aside all bitterness, giving up the right to get even—no matter how good it would feel to settle the score.
Besides that, forgiveness is an action. It doesn’t let you wait for the person who hurt you to say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” Forgiving means you take the first step, just as Jesus reached out to you by dying for you while you were still a sinner (see Romans 5:8).
God wants you to forgive in the same way he forgives you. He doesn’t forgive you because you deserve it, but as a free gift. Likewise, you don’t forgive because the person who hurt you has earned it—by changing for the better, for example, or by begging for your forgiveness. You forgive simply because you want to show the same mercy Jesus showed you!
TALK: Say it in your own words: What is forgiveness? And another question: How easily do you forgive?
PRAY: Christ, when people wrong us, help us to have your forgiving heart.
ACT: Does forgiveness make sense to you? If not, pull out a Bible concordance, look up what the Bible says about forgiveness, and fill your mind with God’s way of thinking.