We know from the teachings of Jesus that forgiveness is necessary to the Christian life, but how does that perspective change when a person has deeply hurt you? What if they hurt someone you love, show no remorse, or do not believe they were even in the wrong?
How can we learn to forgive someone who does not deserve it?
Sharon Muse was assaulted, causing wounds which were deep and raw. She experienced immense pain due to this experience, which turned her life upside down. For years she lived in a constant state of anxiety and suffering because of the perpetrator’s sin. How could she forgive this man when he certainly didn’t deserve it after what he had done?
Many of us have been sinned against in horrible ways; ways that change alter the way we live and see our lives. Why should we forgive someone who has caused us such terrible suffering? How do we forgive someone who shows no remorse for hurting us?
God of Mercy
“You are killing yourself by refusing to give him the same grace I gave you.”
Our God is a God of mercy and he extends his incredible grace to everyone. God loves you just as a Father loves his child and he wants you to experience his personal forgiveness, through which you can be made whole.
God’s mercy manifests in our own lives most clearly through Jesus. Living a sinless life, Jesus chose to willingly pay the punishment for our wrongdoings by dying on the cross and bearing the full wrath of God on our behalf. Our wrongdoings are entirely paid for in Christ, and God now looks upon us with mercy.
This grace was not simply meant to be consumed; it was made to multiply. We receive mercy from God and thus become people of mercy.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
People of God; People of Mercy
Maybe, like Sharon, someone has deeply hurt you or someone you care about and the thought of extending them forgiveness seems completely unfair and unreasonable. But yet, we are called treat them in the same manner as God has treated us, with mercy.
At its root, mercy means that you do not condemn a person for their wrongdoing. You are choosing not to hold a person’s sin against them and to cover that sin with love instead. It is not choosing to forget their sins, to completely trust them, to have an absence of anger, or to feel good about something that was wrong.
But forgiveness is rarely easy. When you live in suffering because of someone’s sin, the pain does not quickly subside. We need help to forgive. In fact, without the power of God, forgiving others is impossible.
If you struggle to forgive someone, you are not alone. The people of God are called to be a people of mercy and we help each other forgive. We also look to the example of Jesus who was wronged, slandered, beaten, and abandoned; he chose to extend mercy to those who sought to do him evil. He gave us the Spirit of power and love who lives with us (2 Timothy 1:7) and empowers us to live like Christ.
So how do we learn to forgive someone who does not deserve it? We look to the life of Jesus and remember the mercy shown to us by a loving God. Together, as the people of God, we will show mercy to others who don’t deserve it and experience the fullness of God in our lives.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
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