How many times has this happened to you?
Someone did something to hurt you, but felt genuinely sorry. It may have been immediately or it may have been much later, but they did feel bad about what they did, said, didn’t do, or didn’t say. They came to you to offer a sincere apology but…
When they said, “I’m sorry.” Have you ever said…
“I don’t want to hear it!”
“I KNOW you’re SORRY!”
“Leave me alone!”
“I’ll never forgive you!”
Did you curse them out?
Did you get loud and try to publicly embarrass them?
Did you you just ignore them. Did you snap back, going through every detail of what happened? Did you throw everything they ever did to hurt you up in their face?
You were still hurt. You were still angry. You were still embarrassed. Your pride got in the way. You were still ‘in your feelings’ about what they did. When someone comes to you to apologize the shift in spiritual responsibility shifts from them to you…
Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
God expects us to always be ready to forgive just as He is…
Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)
5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You
Sometimes we aren’t ready to let go of our anger, especially if the hurt that was done to us made us feel weak, vulnerable, stupid or naïve. Retaining our anger and withholding forgiveness can actually make us feel stronger and in control.
Here’s the thing. We all know that apologizing is not an easy thing to do. We have to swallow our pride. We have to humble ourselves. We have to confront the person we have hurt. And, we know that we may sometimes meet resistance.
Think about Joseph in Genesis (Chapters 37-50). His brothers not only despised him, plotted to murder him and sold him into slavery. Later God elevated Joseph and placed him in position to save their lives. They were afraid of how Joseph would react…but he was READY to forgive…
Genesis 50:19-21 (NKJV)
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph saw the big picture of how God not only allowed the hurt and betrayal, but worked it out for the good of everyone…
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
So I encourage you today…
Be ready to forgive. I know it’s not easy, but it’s situations like this when Philippians 4:13 is most powerful in our lives.
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me
Pray for a forgiving heart. Swallow you pride. Rise above your pain. Be easy to apologize to – because we all know sometimes we’re the one seeking forgiveness.