Do you ever ponder why it’s so hard to forgive other people? I know why. Holding onto the grievance makes you feel righteous, morally superior. Forgiving someone takes the risk of enabling more bad behavior. The worse you can make somebody look in your own mind, the easier it is to overlook your own weaknesses and failures. And—if you hold onto your anger, you have powerful weapons to use in the next argument.
Jesus had severe words for any disciple of his who refused to show mercy to a fellow sinner. He told a story about a servant who had had a huge debt forgiven by his master: “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded” (Matthew 18:28). Isn’t that pathetic? And yet that’s how we look to God when we refuse to let go of our anger.
We’ve been forgiven so much! The amount we owe God because of our own sins and shortcomings is far greater than what any other person owes us. Let it go! Staying angry only keeps you locked in anger prison. Let God’s mercy flow through you. Retaliation and threats and resentment and criticism only make people angrier and more defensive. Only kindness and love can change another person’s heart.
To power up for that kind of sacrificial act, just think about the love it took for Christ to pay the price of your forgiveness.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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