You can do hard things.

My wife tells me that all the time, especially when I’m complaining that some basic task is hard, like finding the ever elusive remote control.

I believe that God believes that you can do hard things, like waiting on an answer to prayer, suffering through a trial, or forgiving an offense someone committed against you.

The reason I believe that God believes you can do hard things is simply because he commanded you to do them, and he’ll never call you to do something he won’t also equip and prepare you for.

And forgiving someone who really hurt you is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. And it’s also one of the most life-giving things you’ll ever do.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

~ Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

There are two big reasons why you should forgive any past hurt you’re holding onto today.

1. Because God forgave you. And we who are the recipients of such grace from a holy and righteous God should surely be able to turn and offer forgiveness to those who have harmed us.

This is hard because sometimes people definitely don’t deserve to be forgiven. They haven’t paid back their debt. They’re not really sorry. Or what they did is simply too big and too painful for us to simply let them off the hook.

But if you want to be like God, forgiveness is the only option. God forgave the very people responsible for the death of his Son, Jesus. What a model to follow!

2. Because God wants you to be free. God knows that forgiveness is the only pathway out of your pain.

We talk about “holding someone” in unforgiveness, but the truth is, when you don’t forgive, the person really being held is you. Unforgiveness grows into resentment and bitterness, which will always hold you back from growing. Always.

In order to really forgive offenses and keep your heart clean and free, it’s important to understand that forgiveness is not simply ignoring abuse or pretending the offense didn’t happen. And it’s not sparing someone from any consequence of the pain they’ve inflicted. Sometimes people lose our trust, our affection, or even a relationship with us because of the nature of their offenses, especially in the case of abuse.

Forgiveness is the decision to write off and set someone free from the debt they owe you – an apology, affirmation, time, a relationship, money, etc. – and to move on without expecting repayment any longer.

It’s a matter of saying, I’m going on. I’m moving forward. I’m not waiting on an apology or repayment anymore. I’m free. I release you. 

Just as God released me and you.

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