I’ve spent way to much time in recent days feeling very wronged. And by a fellow Christian, no less. Somehow, a commitment made a few weeks ago, a couldn’t-have-been-any-clearer “yes,” turned into a “no.”
It was something I was extremely hopeful about, something that seemed like a miraculous gift from God. For it to have ultimately not worked out felt so cruel, so wrong.
I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong
Don’t they know it’s wrong
Well maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard
– Losing, Tenth Avenue North
In response, I looked up the verse, “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no” (Matthew 5:37). I guess I wanted to feel justified in my anger. And for a little while, I did.
But then I read on and came across the following words from Matthew 6:14-15.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
I went from feeling deeply hurt and angry to feeling convicted. I realized that to hang on to my upset would only hurt me.
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Since this is a financial blog, let’s turn there. Are there any tough aspects of your financial situation that others had a part in? Are there difficult financial circumstances you’re dealing with that others caused or contributed to?
Of course, I don’t know your situation. It could well be that the other person really should do something to make things right. They owe it to you. But what if they never do? And what if they never even acknowledge what they did? What if they never apologize or ask you to forgive them?
The counter-intuitive, counter-cultural, counter-everything answer is to let it go.
I know. Believe me, I know. You shouldn’t have to feel as lousy as you do. You shouldn’t have to be paying the price. It’s someone else’s tab. They should pay.
But here’s where I’ve landed after spending too much time dwelling on the unfairness of it all and then spending time in God’s Word: The best thing we can do—the most God-honoring and even good-for-us step we can take—is to choose to forgive.
Why is it so difficult?
If you find it hard to forgive others, I wonder if it’s because you have a hard time forgiving yourself. I know that’s true for me. I am nothing less than brutal toward myself about past failures, completely merciless. The other day, I remembered something I messed up when I was in high school. In high school! So vivid and painful was my sense of failure that it brought tears to my eyes.
It’s what my wife calls “stinkin’ thinkin.’” Believing lies.
So I’ve been spending time reading and meditating on the truth of God’s word. If any of this resonates with you, I recommend you do the same.
Some go-to verses include John 3:16, which depicts the greatest act of forgiveness in the history of the world—God’s forgiveness of you and me.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
You’ve probably read or heard those words a thousand times. But try taking them in as if for the first time. God sent is only Son into the world to die a horrible death as an act of love and in order to forgive us for the many ways we fall short of His holy standards.
This is the starting point. And it has the power to infuse us with a forgiving spirit toward others. That’s what the next two verses are all about.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32
One of the best ways we can steward the reality that we have been forgiven much is to extend forgiveness to others.
Is there someone you need to forgive for some aspect of your financial situation, or anything else? Why not do it today?
What comes first?
I remember reading the verse, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), and thinking it should be the other way around. Our money follows our heart. But over time, I’ve seen the wisdom of it. We don’t need to wait for our hearts to swell with feelings of generosity before we give to this or that ministry; once we start giving, our hearts will follow.
My sense is that the same may be true with forgiveness. Even if our hearts aren’t there right now, if we choose to forgive, our hearts will likely follow.
How has forgiveness factored in to your life, financially or otherwise?
For more on this topic, read The Heart of the Matter.