Forgiveness Is Costly
In the normal course of life we hurt people. We say something that wounds, even murders, them. We also do painful things to them. And we often hurt easily and deeply the ones we love or those closer to us deliberately or unintentionally if we are not careful or self-restrained.
There are cases as well that they offend us or do us wrong. And usually it is so easy to get even at them. Patience or forbearance toward others is a real effort for many of us. Forgiveness is quite unnatural for us. Revenge is more likely.
But as we grow in the grace of God and as His mercy in Christ overwhelms us, we learn to understand and forgive those who have hurt and sinned against us. We feel compassion toward them. We try to put ourselves in their shoes. We feel the pain they have caused. We don’t deny them. We don’t pretend we’re not hurt, yet we learn to bear the pain others have afflicted on us.
And that is part of forbearing with and forgiving someone, especially a loved one or a brother (or sister) in the Lord. For the sake of the Lord who suffered for us and for our sake, “Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?,” says the apostle Paul to the Corinthians who have complaint against their brethren and they want to bring the matter to a civil court (1 Cor. 6;1, 7).
While there may be a situation when we should bring our grievance against a professing believer before a civil trial court, yet we could also opt to forgive and deal with the hatred and vengeful spirit in us while the case is being heard or settled.
Forgiveness is never easy. "Forgiveness can be a costly activity," says Ken Sande. "When you cancel a debt, it does not just simply disappear. Instead, you absorb a liability that someone else deserves to pay."
He continues, "Similarly, forgiveness requires that you absorb certain effects of another person’s sins and you release that person from liability to punishment. This is precisely what Christ accomplished on Calvary" ("The Peacemaker").
Dave Harvey, in his book "When Sinners Say 'I Do'", adds, "Without understanding the depth of our sin against God and the riches of his forgiveness toward us, we will never be able to forgive others."
Forgiveness is undeserved. We cannot require others to forgive us. We can plead for mercy and ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness must be freely given. It is granted to those who deserve punishment for the wrong they have done. That's why granting someone forgiveness is an act of grace and mercy.
We are sinners by nature. We have not only offended our families and relatives and friends but also God, who is our Creator and Lord.
But thanks be to God that in Him there is hope for us who are offenders by nature. In Christ we learn to confess and repent from our sins.
We also begin to overlook some offenses and seek reconciliation with those who have sinned against us. We realize that they are still like us, capable of doing dumb things.
Imitating God in His love and kindness is now becoming second-nature to us who are born from above. We start living a life of love toward others, getting rid of bitterness from our hearts, and forgiving another from the heart the way God forgave us in Christ (cf. Eph. 4:31-32).