What is forgiveness? In the parable of the king who forgave his servant’s massive debt, we learn that to forgive means no longer requiring payback for an offense from the person who wronged us. It is also entails understanding that no one has enough to pay us back fully anyway (Matthew 18:21-35). After all, who can undo the damage done by their words or by some damaging action of theirs? Who can heal the pain they caused? Yes, restitution can be made by the offending person in an attempt to right a wrong, but no one can turn back the clock and make sure we never suffer the wrong in the first place. Knowing that it is God Himself who can make it up to us in infinite ways, we may as well forgive them. He is the One who restores our souls (minds, wills, and emotions). He also is the One who repays--vengeance is His.
I am in no way making this a trivial task; some things can be prodigiously difficult to forgive. However, difficult does not mean impossible. God would not have said for us to do it if it were impossible. But He knows that without Him, we can do nothing; therefore, it starts with asking Him to help us. Forgiveness is freeing for us, yet, it does not set the other person free from the consequences of their actions.
I also am not saying that forgiving someone means you have to remain in contact with them. Sometimes, it is unsafe and toxic to remain in contact with someone who we have forgiven. The Bible actually supports this. Notably, 1 Corinthians 5:11 states, “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” The word reviler means a person who uses abusive or disrespectful language in speaking to or about another; a person who calls others bad names. Verse 13 goes on to say that we are to put away from ourselves the evil person. Furthermore, Psalm 18:48 speaks of God’s willingness to deliver us from the violent person. People who practice such things find themselves in an array of destructive behaviors, such as adultery, robbery, addictions, and abuse of all kinds; therefore, we are instructed to steer clear.
Thankfully, according to Isaiah 61:1, Jesus heals the brokenhearted; therefore, we can ask Him to heal us. In cooperation with the healing process, we must engage in opportunities to obtain our healing through the help of wise counsel. Yes, this means that there might be some necessary work on our parts to ensure we heal properly. Quite similarly, when we are hurt physically, if necessary, we go and see someone who specializes in our particular injury. For instance, in cases of a broken bone or of a severe open wound, one goes to the E.R, and in cases where there one has a toothache, one goes to a dentist. Likewise, with emotional traumas, we should seek out professional help from those who specialize in our particular situations. For example, every doctor is not an Orthopedic Specialist, a Surgeon, or a Dentist; in the same way, every Mental Health Professional, or Pastor, for that matter, may not be as well-informed about every issue. It is crucial to pray for direction and diligently search for the right professional help.
Forgiveness is a part of our journeys here on earth. There are times we need it extended to us, and there are times we need to extend it to others. We are not a race of robots programmed never to make mistakes, sometimes we make choices that may hurt and offend others, but God promises to make the wrongs right if we allow Him. He also makes provision for us to be victorious--nobody’s victim (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14, Isaiah 54:17). So, is forgiveness worth it? Yes, because forgiveness frees us from the residue of the past!