Many times, adversity in our lives comes as a result of the actions of other people. Sometimes these hurtful actions are deliberate, other times their actions are just irresponsible decisions that they have made. In either case their actions seriously affect us. How are we to respond to those who are the instruments causing our adversities? We are to respond to them in love, mercy, and forgiveness. What is our tendency? Our tendency is to harbor resentment and allow it to build up inside affecting our attitudes to those that we come in contact with. Our tendency is to desire to get revenge on those that have injured us.
There are two things that have helped me to forgive others. The first is to admit that I am a sinner, forgiven by God through the blood of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for my sins. I need to admit that I have hurt others, perhaps not deliberately, unconsciously through an uncaring spirit or selfish action. Ecclesiastes 7:21–22 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
There is a rich direct application in this passage and also a broader principle that speaks to the subject of forgiveness. Let me restate the passage. Do not resent other people who are the instruments of adversity in your life for you know in your heart that you have sometimes been the instrument of adversity in the lives of others. God commands us to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. This is a commandment. If I want God to forgive me when I have hurt others then I must be willing to forgive those who are instruments of pain in my life.
Second, I seek to look beyond the person who is only the instrument to see God who has purpose for this adversity for me. Lamentations 3:37 Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? If God has in His infinite wisdom deemed it to be good for me through the adversities brought by others, God is doing His work in my life. We humble ourselves by resisting the tendency of bitterness or resentment in our hearts toward the other person. These actions may be sinful in themselves but God is using those actions in my life for good.
When we look at the final prayer that our Lord and Savior offered on the cross as His life was coming to an end here on earth. We see that He forgave those that had severely abused Him. Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Jesus gives us the example that we should live by and He forgave those that were the ones that actually kill Him on the cross. Jesus stated: Matthew 6:14–15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Jesus stated here that if we want God to forgive us of our transgressions then we must forgive those who transgress against us. Many times, this is difficult and requires considerable prayer and time to relapse in order to forgive some of the hurt that others have brought into our lives. This does not mean that we will forget the hurt as some have taught in the past. And it does not mean that you are to have lunch with this individual on a daily basis. It does mean that you do not bring the offense into the conversation or even into your thoughts on a regular basis.
Have you fully forgiven those that have brought adversity into your life? If not why not?