As a pastor people hurt you regularly. Sometimes it’s intentional, but most of the time it’s unintentional. The same is true for parents, kids, coworkers, and spouses. Hurt is a reality we live in when we are regularly engaged with other people. The question we must deal with is what do we do when it hurts too bad, and we don’t want to forgive.
Our inner dialogue will talk us into holding onto the hurt and refusing to extend forgiveness to the other person.
“They don’t deserve my forgiveness!”
“Can you believe what he said or did?”
“I will forgive most people, but what they did hurt too much and went too far.”
Maybe it’s just my internal dialogue, but these are the kinds of things I argue with myself about. I understand people deserve grace because Christ extended grace to me, but sometimes I just don’t want to show that same level of grace. So what we do when this is the dilemma we are facing: we know we should forgive, but we just don’t want to forgive? Below you will find a few things I have found helpful over the years.
Pray for those who hurt you. In some cases prayer can feel like the Christian cop out. It’s what pastors say or Christians say when they don’t know what else to say or do . In this case that could not be farther from the truth. Prayer aligns our hearts with God’s vision for the world. When we pray for those who hurt us we are placing our pain on the shoulders of our savior, and asking him to walk with us through the process of healing and forgiveness.
Keep short accounts. Grudges force us to hold onto unresolved pain for years oftentimes while the other party is oblivious to our pain. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13;5 “Love keeps no records of wrongs”, and Jesus said in Matthew 5 “Love your enemies”. So even those who hurt us the most we are to keep very short accounts with.
Make the first move. In order for the forgiveness process to begin, the offended sometimes has to make the first move. This is the example Jesus set for us on the cross. He made the first move to demonstrate his resolve to working out our relationship with him. He forgave us before we were even capable of asking for forgiveness. You might just have to do the same. This could be a letter, a phone call, or in person meeting where you extend forgiveness and grace. Making the first move doesn’t mean you will naturally become best friends. It just means you no longer want the unresolved tension to be coming between you two.
Extend the grace you wish to receive. You will at some point in your life screw up and hurt somebody else. At that moment would you not beg for grace and forgiveness? The same grace you hope to receive in that moment, needs to be extended it to those around you who have hurt you to the core. Anger rarely heals a broken relationship, but grace covers over a multitude of sins.
Who do you need to forgive today?