Forgiveness is a never-ending process. The disciple Peter once asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “Seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21–22 NLT).
As long as we live on this earth, we will have to work at keeping our hearts free of unforgiveness because people often do or say hurtful things, even unintentionally. For me, the hardest people to forgive are the ones who hurt my loved ones. I can remember one time when I was a child and someone did something hurtful to my mother. Now my mother is wonderful. So when this person did her wrong I was offended and angry with them for years. I thought, one day they’re going to get what they deserve.
But later the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Lindsay, you can’t carry that bitterness because it will destroy you.” I was reminded of Matthew 5:44, where Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
I began to weep and said, “Lord, I forgive them.” And do you know what happened when I did that? I hadn’t seen the other person for years, so I don’t know what happened to them, but forgiving them released me! It felt like a huge weight rolled off me, and I was set free!
No matter what someone has done to you or to your loved ones, God commands you to forgive. You can’t do it in your own humanness, but you can obey His Word. As an act of your will, declare, “Lord, I forgive them,” because forgiveness sets you free!