by Alex Kratt
What does it take to forgive someone?
First, I would like to pray that HE would allow those who are currently struggling and going through tribulations to see who HE is through this short testimony today. 1 Peter 5:9-10 says, “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” I would say these verses sum up the testimony I am about to share.
Years ago, there was a person who would often insult me in private or in front of other people. This person is also a fellow Christian. Because I had to literally interact with this person face to face each day, I was not able to just ignore it and walk away. This event had lasted for a couple of years and it was one of the most difficult times in my life.
The details of what this person said or did is not anything that I want to focus on. You might be wondering what my initial reaction or response was to this person when it happened. I did not react harshly because when it happened, the very first thought that came to my mind was God saying, “Do not repay insult for insult.”
Although I did not respond to the person with harsh words, I tried my best to fix the problem within my own ability and strength. I had tried to consult with people I respect and tried to change the way I did things when the person was around, but nothing changed. In fact, things actually became worse.
There were times when people I knew happened to be around and witness the scene. They had said things like don’t stay quiet, you should stand up for yourself, don’t let this person treat you like that, don’t be weak. This is something the world would tell us is right. I remember telling these people with tears that Christ said HE wouldn’t want me to repay evil for evil or trade harsh words.
The truth is that when it all happened, all I wanted to do was react towards this person with anger.
It is not that I was unable to fight for myself nor was I any weaker than the other person. I would say being humiliated and embarrassed in front of a group of people is not something we would want to experience. Being humiliated and embarrassed in front of people… sounds very familiar right? That’s what Christ went through before HE was crucified. HE obeyed HIS father, went through suffering, and forgave those who sinned against HIM for GOD’s glory.
Forgiving others is part of what following CHRIST is. If you are a Christian, you must deny yourself and carry your cross and because we are HIS children we must partake in HIS suffering in order to partake in HIS glory. In Gospels of Luke 9:23 and Matthew 16:24 Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Romans 8:17 says, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
Unfortunately as a new, “baby” Christian I did not understand much about God’s glory at the time of suffering, but I believed that HE is a faithful God whose nature is the fullness of good. When my flesh wanted to follow my feelings and believe lies, the Holy Spirit would remind me of HIS words so I can cling to HIS TRUTH and believe it.
Although I, myself, was not able to forgive the person I met Jesus daily in prayer. At the time, I did not know when this struggle would end but I had told HIM that I was very hurt. I would pray for the ability to forgive this person but I was not able to because of my flesh and weakness, but I wanted to obey HIM.
After two years had passed, one day I was in the car with this person and others. All of a sudden, in the car this person apologized and said, “I’m sorry. I did not know you were hurt.” And just like that forgiveness came. I forgave the person.
I was surprised that the person apologized in front of others in the car because apologizing in front of others is not something we see often. And later on those who witnessed the scene heard of the news and they were very surprised. Remember how I was advised to stand up for myself?
So my true friendship with the person actually has been going on since this day of reconciliation. We are good friends now; close friends. We pray for each other, we talk to each other often, we even miss each other!
Let me be clear in saying that it was NOT me who was trying to fix the problem. It was NOT me who arranged the reconciliation. It was NOT me who convicted the person’s heart. It was NOT me who softened my heart. It was NOT me who initiated discussion or forgiveness. I had done nothing. It was only GOD. HE opened the door of reconciliation for both of us. All I had to do was drop my worries and burdens at HIS feet and watch HIM do these things for me! Praise be to God!
We are told to walk by faith and not by sight. By this world’s expectation, the lie is that I should have followed my heart and my feelings should have responded to this person with harsh words or certain actions because we deserve it. We are entitled to defend ourselves or our reputation. That is NOT what Scripture says. And Scripture is purely words of GOD, words of TRUTH, words of LIFE. Walking by faith means we believe in the truth and live in the truth and live it. And the truth directs us to focus on Christ as HE perfects our faith.
There are many verses that I would love to share but these are the ones that spoke directly to me during this suffering. They strengthened me and allowed me to focus on God. I hope these words of God can encourage you also.
1. 21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” 22 Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! ~ Matthew 18:21-22
2. 14 If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
3. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
4. If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15
5. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3
6. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
7. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5
As a Christian, how can we respond to others who are Christian and non-Christian in love during arguments or dispute or heated moments?
1. God created us with feelings. May we pray that God takes full control of our feelings and thoughts even when we view them as negative.
2. Ask God to open the doors of our heart to forgiveness and reconciliation towards one another despite how we feel.