“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18
God’s ways are above our ways, and He wants to teach us godliness. He knows what is best for us and the kind of character He wants to develop in our lives. In doing so, God gives us clear and direct commands about certain responses, that often go against our natural tendencies. He tells us to humble ourselves because our natural inclination is to exalt ourselves. He tells us to give and share because we are selfish by nature. He commands us to serve others because it is normal behavior to want to be served instead.
In God’s Word, there are numerous requirements or commands, forbidding us to take revenge or “bear any grudge” against others. The Lord knows our inclination to hold grudges, harbor ill feelings, or carry resentment toward those who have wronged us or offended us. He also knows how damaging these feelings or attitudes can be to us. Therefore He commands us, with no exceptions, to forgive others.
We are very capable of justifying grudges and making ourselves comfortable with a lack of forgiveness. Unforgiveness, however, is inconsistent with God’s character. It has been said that we are never any more like Christ than when we forgive. God wants to forgive, and He wants us to forgive. Because God, in His wisdom, knows how beneficial it is for us to forgive others and how harmful it is to carry bitterness or unforgiveness in our hearts, He makes this a major issue in our spiritual growth and obedience.
Many of God’s people are troubled with a lack of forgiveness toward those who have offended or wronged them. That lack of forgiveness will prove to be a source of spiritual defeat and an emotional drain until it is resolved. How can we forgive those who have hurt us so deeply? Because God requires it, we know He is available and able to help us forgive those we have not forgiven. We are also taught in the New Testament to forgive others as we have been forgiven. The forgiveness we have experienced becomes the pattern for the forgiveness we offer others. We did not deserve forgiveness, but received it freely through Christ. Because we have been forgiven of so much, we are able, by faith, to forgive others. It may seem impossible for us, but not for God.