Sam Petitfils

"Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive.  Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs." 2 Corinthians 2:10-11.

". . .love is not resentful." 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Most people, as they age, complain of a faltering memory, but many people struggle with a less flattering aspect of memory: remembering how others have injured them.

In a world of sin, offenses abound.  It's difficult to pass the day without someone saying or doing something that does not offend us in some way.  We tend to recall such offenses much easier than kindnesses and courtesies done to us.  Our sense of injustice done to us tends to override any mercy we might offer to our offenders, but let's consider why we must forgive, and do so from the heart.

Harboring resentment plays into Satan's hands (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

In the passage from 2 Corinthians 2 above, Paul sees the big picture, not just the momentary scene.  He has every reason to complain of the shabby treatment that he, an apostle, received at the hands of the Corinthians. But he sees a greater principle at stake: Satan thrives in an atmosphere where people fail to forgive.  It leads to strife, division and enmity, all of which invite Satan's work (see James 3:14-18).  When we fail to forgive, we become open prey for Satan's devices.

Harboring resentment makes little of God's forgiveness of our own sins (Ephesians 4:32).

This verse commands us to forgive others because God has forgiven us.  When we fail to release others from their offenses to us, we unwittingly make little of God's forgiveness of our own sins.  The next time we struggle to forgive others, we should ask, "Do I value God's forgiveness?"

Harboring resentment does not model God's standard of love (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Stated simply, "love does not resent."  The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22), a quality God poured into our hearts at salvation (Romans 5:5).  The Bible commands us to "walk in love" (Ephesians 5:2), yet we struggle or even refuse to forgive others.  When we refuse to forgive, we make little of God's love for us, and we ourselves do not walk in love.


Having stated the standard, we all need to admit that it's not always easy to forgive.  "Why did he/she say that about me?  I did not deserve that."  True enough, but we live in a world where offenses abound.  In order to help us to forgive others, let's consider:

1) Ask God for the strength to forgive others.

He who calms the storms can calm our own rage long enough to forgive others.  We do not love others because of something worthy in them; we love because God has commanded and enabled us to do so (1 John 4:7-8).

2) When you recall injuries done to you, forgive again.

I don't think we can always forgive and simply forget it.  That's the ideal, but not the norm.  But we can forgive each time we recall evil deeds done to us by others.  When we see people who have failed us in some way, rather than conjure up a list of why they do not deserve our kind greeting, let's forgive them once again and ask God for grace to treat them well.

3) Reflect long and hard on the many times you have failed God and how He has forgiven you.

In this, every child of God should rejoice.  God has forgiven you of your sins, imagine that!  Do not doze off on that truth; it should create in us a desire to model that godly love that forgives.  If God has forgiven us, should we not forgive others?

At this point, someone may say, "That's all well and good, but it's hard to forgive!"  Yes it is, but the life that God has called us to is a life of supernatural living.  God can and will provide the grace to treat others with love they do not deserve, just like we do not deserve God's love for us.  Ask God for the power, love and grace to forgive others, and then you will experience peace that surpasses understanding.  One day God will right every wrong, because vengeance belongs to Him alone (Romans 12:19).  Until then, let's live by God's strength, asking Him to fill us with the grace to freely extend forgiveness to others.


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