A little child is relieved when Mama or Daddy says, “That’s okay, you’ll do better next time.” We all love a second chance, a fresh start, or a clean slate. Every Christian has been forgiven of serious sins against our Almighty God. And we are so grateful, that our hearts swell with worship and love toward our Savior. What a blessed gift is this forgiveness! We are clean! We are free!
So, why is it so hard to forgive others when they trespass against us?
“But you don’t know what he did!” some cry.
“She can’t hurt me that way, and get away with it!” others vow.
It is very ironic that those of us who revel in the forgiveness of our Lord, still hold grudges against our brothers and sisters. Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 18:21-35.
Yet, I don’t want to dwell only on forgiveness, but on the flip side, repentance. Repentance is a lovely gift. It springs from the humility planted by the Holy Spirit as He works in our hearts.
Humans are so stubborn, that we often cling to our opinions and rights as if we were falling from a high cliff and those were our only handholds. Yet, we are often in the wrong. We bruise someone’s heart, and insist they shouldn’t be so sensitive. We push our opinions, when someone just needs a listening ear. Often, we act as if everything is about us, when in reality it’s all about Jesus.
So, when we have been real jerks, have no doubt that others have noticed. Our spouses, siblings, children, co-workers, neighbors, associates, or friends are probably smarting from our harsh remarks, or are deeply wounded by our thoughtless actions. Since we are human, even when we do not intend to hurt anyone, we can still leave paths of devastation in our wakes.
“I’m sorry,” are just two little words, but they are, oh, so powerful.
“I think I hurt you, and I am so sorry,” delivered with sincerity, is very freeing.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I see I did. I apologize.” Offered with the softness of humility, this is like cold water to a thirsty heart.
Have you ever been wronged and keenly felt the sting and injustice of it? Then, the person who did the deed came and humbly took responsibility and offered a heartfelt apology? Do you remember what that did for your heart? Granted, this does not always happen, and we should let go of the hurt even if we never receive an apology. Yet, when it comes it is sweet, isn’t it? Well, we can do this for others. If we discover we have hurt someone, let them see us repent.
Sometimes, we are afraid that if we apologize or even back down, we will lose something: our status, our standing, our pride, our reputation. Yes, well, we may lose those. And that may be a good thing. Instead, we will develop characteristics of far greater value, like those of Jesus: love, kindness, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance.
What do we protect, feed, and nurture? The stubborn pride of our sinful natures, or the wise humility of our new natures?
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 Peter 5:5 “… and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Proverbs 16:18-19 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.”