“I forgive you”
This is what my husband and I teach our children to say when someone says “I’m sorry” to them. I didn’t come up with this on my own. I learned it from one of my best friends several years ago, when my daughter and her son were very young. I remember feeling a bit uncomfortable hearing my daughter say it at first. I’m not sure why. Maybe I felt like it was just a tad pretentious. As if the meaning behind the words was “I forgive you because I am better than you.” Of course it was never meant to sound that way, and that is not the meaning behind the words.
Being on the receiving end of forgiveness is often times quite humbling though, isn’t it.
As I listen to my children forgive one another, albeit a bit grudgingly at times, I am realizing something.
I have not said these words to another adult in a long time… the actual words “I forgive you”.
I think as adults we have a hard time saying “I forgive you”. When someone apologizes to us, we tend to say “That’s okay. Don’t worry about it. No problem.”
Is that what we really mean?
Is that what we are feeling in our hearts.
Is it really okay for others to wrong us?
Would we want them to continue the offensive behavior?
Of course not. What we really mean is “I forgive you”, though for some reason it’s difficult to coax these words from our mouths.
Sometimes it’s hard because we don’t feel like forgiving.
Maybe we want to hold on to the hurt.
Sometimes holding a grudge is easier than letting the hurt go.
Sometimes we feel that it’s not our place to forgive. As if we are not qualified to forgive.
Sometimes we cannot forgive others because we cannot forgive ourselves.
Jesus calls us to be forgivers.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'” To which Jesus answered, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Later He said to his disciples, “…if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent’, you shall forgive him.”
Why should we forgive?
We forgive because He forgave us.
Once for all, for all of the times we have wronged Him and all of the times we will wrong Him, He forgave us.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses…“
Praise the Lord! Because He forgave us we can forgive others!
Let us say the words “I forgive you!” freely and confidently, with the love that only comes from Christ Jesus.