One of the most difficult issues in human relationships is forgiving an offense (cf. Gen. 32-33; Prov. 18:19). This is true for unbelievers in the world, and it is also true for believers within Christ’s Church. Christians, though, have a distinct advantage over those who remain in the world—we have the gracious example of the Lord Jesus Christ who forgave us so much (cf. Eph. 4:32; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; 3:18). Beyond that, we also have the Holy Spirit who dwells within each one of us and makes it possible to truly forgive past offenses (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19-20). Because of these powerful truths Christians can and do forsake their sins, forgive one another of past offenses, forbear with current offenses, and forget the hurtful words and actions of others who have hurt them deeply. Let us give praise to God for all that He has done and continues to do in our lives!
Consider some wise counsel on this subject from two godly men…
From the Protestant Reformer, Dr. Martin Luther:
“Therefore a Christian should follow a different practice. When he sees the mote in his brother’s eye, he should go look at himself in the mirror before passing judgment. He will then find beams in his eye big enough to make hog troughs. Consequently he will have to say: What is this anyway? My neighbor has done this once in a quarter, a half, a whole year; but I have become so old and have never yet kept the commandments of our Lord God, yea, I transgress them every hour and moment. How can I be such a desperate rascal? My sins are nothing but large oaks, thirty feet tall; and I allow the paltry motes, the specks of dust in my brother’s eye, to irritate me more than my large beams! But this should not be. I must first see how to get rid of my own sins. This will keep me so busy that I shall forget about the motes.” (Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Weimar Edition 52, p. 524)
From the English Puritan, Thomas Watson:
Question: “How do we know when we have forgiven another?”
Answer: “When we resist all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemy’s mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to come to their aid in distress.” Also… “We are not bound to trust an enemy; but we are bound to forgive him.” (Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity, Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, p. 581)
–Pastor Marcus Serven