For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
That was Matthew 6:14. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? Just forgive everyone for every little wrong thing they’ve done to you, and…well, it’s starting to sound not so easy now. It may sound like a really simple thing to forgive others, but when we’re in the middle of holding a grudge, forgiveness is the last thing we want to think about. So what do we do about that?
Here’s another helpful Bible passage, from Matthew 18:21-22. It’s a conversation between Jesus and Peter:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
When I read this, I can’t help but think, “Peter, seriously? You would only forgive a brother or sister seven times?” (Peter is referring to brothers and sisters in Christ, but he’s not saying that we shouldn’t forgive non-Christians as well). But if you think a little more about it, Peter’s point of view (though incorrect) starts to make sense. If a friend of yours spread rumors about you, shared secrets entrusted to him, and was rude to your face, how many times would you be willing to forgive him? We start to see that forgiveness in friendship comes up a lot.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you should allow your friend to do those things and just keep forgiving him over and over again. We need to talk to our friend and tell them about the problems that have come up in your friendship. Work things out, and show your friend why doing what he’s doing is wrong. Salvation works this way too. God doesn’t just go poof! and “ta-da!” your sins are wiped away. That’s not how it goes. We have to confess we’re sinners and make an effort to stop sinning, and begin following the path of righteousness (a.k.a. the straight and narrow).
Forgiveness and friendship. We all mess up from time to time, and if it weren’t for forgiveness, I highly doubt any of us would have friends. (Plus, if it weren’t for forgiveness, we wouldn’t have the free gift of salvation!). If you’ve been holding any grudges, ask God to help you release them. Ephesians 4:26 says this:
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
It takes effort, for sure, but that policy is a good one to go by.
More from The Friendship Series: