I’ve heard a lot of people say that the reason you should forgive someone who has hurt you is so you won’t be weighed down by holding a grudge. It doesn’t matter if the other person is sorry or if he is even aware that he has something to be sorry for. It’s not about the other person; it’s about your finding freedom from the pain.
And that might be true. But what if forgiveness is about something bigger than that?
A lot of times the person who has been hurt thinks that forgiveness is theirs to give. We act like we have grace and mercy stored up within us, and, when we deem someone worthy, we can offer them forgiveness out of the goodness of our hearts.
That sounds noble. But it’s not. It’s a self-centered lie that cheapens the act of forgiveness.
The truth is we are no better than the person who hurt us. We are all guilty of hurting others from time to time. The other truth is grace and mercy are never ours to give. We can’t produce them. They are unnatural. We can force ourselves to play nice, but we know, in the depths of our hearts, we still despise them for what they did.
Jesus is the source of all mercy and grace (Jhn 1:17) . And when we experience His forgiveness personally, it inspires us to show the same grace to others (as opposed to giving a counterfeit version of man made grace, complete with strings attached) .
When others hurt us, we should think, “Let me show you the Lord’s grace in our situation because His grace is so fantastic I can’t contain myself! I want everyone to experience it!” We share the grace and mercy we have been the recipients of because we are keenly aware of just how much we ourselves have been forgiven.
We are grace peddlers, if you will, giving out free samples of grace and mercy when others offend us. Hopefully, they will find the samples so delicious that all they can think about is getting more. They’ll realize they’ve never experienced anything so delightful, and they’ll begin to crave grace and mercy in larger quantities.
They’ll have to go to the Maker; we peddlers only carry around a limited supply. And that is the bigger point of forgiveness. When we are willing to forgive, sharing a taste of Christ’s mercy and grace with others, the experience draws them (and us) to the Father.