If you are struggling with unforgiveness, take another look at the enormous debt for which God has forgiven you. Turning to the Bible and reminding yourself of God’s holiness will help you see more clearly the seriousness of even your smallest sin (see Isa. 6:1-5; James 2:10-11). Make a list of some of the sins for which God has forgiven you. In particular, ask yourself whether you have ever treated God or others the same way you have been treated by the person you are trying to forgive. Take a long look at this list and remind yourself what you deserve from God because of your sins. Then rejoice in the wonderful promise of Psalm 103:8-11: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”
The more you understand and appreciate the wonders of God’s forgiveness, the more motivation you will have to forgive others.Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 217
Food for Thought
I remember when I read this part of Ken’s book for the first time, having spent years refusing to forgive an individual who had wronged me. I had rationalized my refusal by telling myself that since he hadn’t asked, I wasn’t obligated to have an attitude of forgiveness. I had decided to wait for this person to ask me for forgiveness, and had planned how much he would have to suffer in my process of forgiveness. I doubt I’m alone in thinking this way. But then I was convicted. I was reminded that Jesus went to the cross to forgive my sins long before I ever acknowledged those sins and sought forgiveness. Who was I to withhold forgiveness, as much as it depends on me, in light of this realization?
I took Ken’s challenge that very day and began to make a list of some of the sins for which God had forgiven me. I didn’t have to think back more than a few days to have a sizeable list. Looking at my list, I recognized immediately the enormous debt God had paid on my behalf, and that I was in no position to refuse that same forgiveness to anybody else.
Are you withholding forgiveness from somebody today? Perhaps it’s time for you to accept the same challenge from Ken. Take a few minutes and write down some of the sins for which you’ve been forgiven. Then write down the sins this other person has perpetuated against you. How do the lists compare? Do you recognize the enormity of the mercy you have been shown? It is only when we first meditate on how much we have been forgiven that we can even begin to follow the exhortation to “forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13b).