"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
Why do we struggle to forgive someone who hurt us? Maybe our ego convinces us that we have the right to stay angry; or perhaps our twisted sense of righteousness wants to get back at our trespassers by not forgiving them; or it could be that our pride prevents us from taking the first step to restore relationships?
However it may be, our refusal to forgive, breaks the "unity of the Spirit" amongst us because we do not want to keep "the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3)
But that's not all; when we do not want to forgive, we ourselves close the door of forgiveness from God in our lives: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father also forgives you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt 6:14,15)
Why this shocking warning? Because if we don't forgive others, we are denying our common ground as sinners in need of God's forgiveness. He does not forgive us because we forgive others or keep some laws, but solely because of His great mercy. We are forgiven in Christ:"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
If you understand this, you must know that you are blessed because "your transgressions are forgiven and your sins will never count against you." (Rom 4:7,8). How can we then refuse to forgive others?! When I forgive others, it becomes my song of gratitude towards God because "I am a blessed person." And furthermore, my forgiveness becomes a reflection of God's forgiveness to all people.
Of course forgiveness doesn't happen by itself. It is a result of God working in us to want to forgive......but it requires our co-operation: we have to be obedient to His working in us and then decide to forgive, because forgiveness is an act of one's will. And that is precisely what Stephan did when dying, he prayed for his murderers:"Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:59)
Prayer: Lord, without your forgiveness, I still would have been locked up in sin, but now I a am a blessed man - You forgave me. Thank you for forgiveness and that You enable me to continuously forgive other people. Amen.