For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:14-15 ESV
Recently a comment from a friend caught my attention. She didn’t mention me or events of the past. It was actually a perfectly innocent comment on someone else’s post. It really had nothing to do with me.
But Satan tried to use it. For as I read her comment, the thought came to me, “I wonder if she really forgives me. I wonder if she still resents the way things went down. I wonder if she sees my posts and thinks, ‘What right does she have to be an encourager? How could she say that after what happened between us?'”
Of course, based on what I know of this person, I highly doubt such comments cross her mind. I fully believe the above thought was a lie straight from hell attempting to throw me off course. I fully believe she accepted my apologies for what happened. But it was as I refuted Satan’s attempt to derail my forward progress that God reminded me there is an aspect of forgiveness we must remember: it is not essential people forgive us; God’s forgiveness is what matters.
Let me explain. Forgiveness is a choice. Bitterness is a choice. Resentment is a choice. Most of us get this. We know we must choose to forgive others–we must choose not to harbor bitterness or resentment toward anyone. For we know the effects bitterness has on us physically, mentally, and spiritually.
But not everyone makes the right choice. Not everyone chooses to forgive. So what do we do when we find ourselves on the other side of forgiveness? What do we do when our sincerest apologies are met with hatred and rebuke?
We must keep moving forward. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and determine not to allow someone else’s unforgiveness to hinder our personal freedom. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And anyone who has accepted Jesus as Savior and asked for forgiveness is indeed forgiven. Therefore, as Christ followers we are free from the law of sin and death. We may not be free from earthly consequences but we are free spiritually, and we are free from condemnation.
We are free–even if someone on earth chooses not to forgive us. For the forgiveness of others doesn’t save us; God does.
Did you get that? If someone doesn’t forgive you, it is their problem, not yours. It is the one who cannot forgive who will not be forgiven. It is the one who cannot let go who will never be free. Therefore each of us must daily–moment by moment–choose life. Each of us must choose not to let someone else’s bitterness affect our behavior. We must choose to seek first our Savior. We must choose to walk in newness of life. We must choose to pray for the one who harbors resentment toward us. And we must choose never to forget that anyone who is in Christ Jesus is free–free indeed.
So do you know Jesus? Then you are forgiven. You are free. And no matter what someone on earth may choose to do or not do could ever change what God has already done. God has paid the price. He has set you free. And you are forgiven. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).