I’m sure you’ve heard something similar to at least one of these things:
- You will be controlled by the grudges you hold.
- Refusing to forgive will only make you miserable.
- Grudges commit you to a direction that will never heal your hurt.
- Failing to forgive others puts a burden on you.
Sometimes those things are true because with some grudges, the only person you are hurting is yourself.
But I have yet to find a Bible passage that commands us to forgive others because of the benefits it will bring to us. I have found a lot of passages that say the opposite.
The greatest example of this is God’s forgiveness for you. His act of forgiving you didn’t lift a burden off his shoulders. In order to forgive, God had to deal a blow to himself. Jesus had to carry a cross. You can look at all the things listed above, and none of them applied to the act of God forgiving you.
Forgiving someone might cost you something. It might cost you an opportunity to make things even. It might cost you some money or time. Forgiveness might mean you carry a burden that rightfully belongs to someone else.
Sometimes your decision to forgive someone will benefit you. But don’t let that be what compels you. Forgive because you’ve received the benefit of forgiveness from God. Or as the apostle Paul put it, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).