“We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer; it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own” (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).
In the prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples, He specifically mentioned that we pray that God will forgive us our transgressions as we have forgiven those who have transgressed against us. If we are of the mindset that we are unwilling to forgive others, it means that we have not experienced it ourselves. Not that I said unwilling, not unable. Only by the grace of the God who forgives us can we even hope truly to forgive anyone else.
Forgiveness is not an option for the believer in Jesus. Remember, He had way less reason to forgive us, yet chose the most extreme way to demonstrate that forgiveness in laying down His life for us. If He can do that, then we can choose to forgive.
Remember, forgiveness is releasing the other person or persons from the expectation that they can fix what they did to you, as I heard a pastor say more than once. It is not enabling them to continue to hurt you. It is not automatic and blind trust in that person. It’s simply releasing them from what they did to you.
The moment you choose to forgive, the one who walks in the most freedom is you. You are no longer bound by bitterness or animosity. You no longer live in captivity to the past where you were hurt.
It’s not easy. Jesus never promised to make obedience easy but to make it possible. He promised that if we are willing to follow Him and do what He said to do, He would enable us to do it. It may not happen overnight or even over weeks or months or years, but as God grows you into Christlikeness, you will find that you are able to love and forgive those Jesus has loved and forgiven. You will even be able to forgive those who aren’t loving or even sorry for what they did to you, just as He forgave the ones who were in the very act of murdering Him.