But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.Mark 11:25 (NLT)
When I was in sixth grade, I had a friend. Let’s call him Bob. Bob’s birthday was quickly approaching, and he always had great birthday parties. They usually involved a lot of sugary snacks, some game time on the Atari (It’s an ancient gaming system), and maybe a movie or two. I had been to every one of Bob’s birthday parties since his family had moved to town a few years back. The day came when Bob began handing out birthday party invitations, and I got mine. I was really excited. But, later that day, at lunch time, I overheard one of the other boys complaining that I had been invited. He didn’t like me very much and didn’t want me to ruin the party. It stung. But, what stung most was what came next. My buddy Bob then told him, “Sorry man, my mom made me invite him.” It hurt. I cried (In the bathroom, of course, so I wouldn’t be made fun of). I decided to tell Bob that I wasn’t going to be at his party. I didn’t tell him why. I just made up an excuse. We weren’t really friends anymore following that day.
We’ve all had episodes in our lives when people have done us wrong. Maybe it was a betrayal by a friend or spouse. Maybe someone stole something, or someone, that was important to you. Maybe someone physically or emotionally harmed you in some way. There are many ways we hurt each other.
Jesus understands this. He was, after all, betrayed by His own children and murdered by their hatred for Him. Yet, look at some of His last words. “Father forgive them…” (Luke 23:34)
Forgiveness is important to God and His kingdom. How important? Jesus made it a salvation issue. We must forgive so that we may be forgiven.
Understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you forget what happened. You can forgive a murderer, but don’t give him back his gun and set him loose in your home. Forgiveness is letting go of the hatred we feel towards someone and, instead, wishing them goodness in their life. Forgiveness is about our healing, not about letting someone off the hook.
Today, take an inventory. See if there are people you are holding a grudge against. Pray for them, that they will be blessed by God. Forgive them, let go of the anger you have.