Ok… honesty here…. forgiveness may be one of the greatest challenges of the Christian life.
I’m not suggesting that we should not forgive but, we are human and forgiveness can be tough.
When someone hurts us, it can cause major bitterness that at times, exists for years. And, it can be tough to forgive. At times, a person never forgives. That’s not right, of course; but it happens.
In the book of Philemon, Paul has led a young man named Onesimus to the Lord. Onesimus is a runaway slave who is owned by a man named Philemon. After Paul leads Onesimus to the Lord, Paul sends a letter to Philemon asking him to forgive Onesimus. In verse eight and nine, Paul says, “I have confidence that you would do the right thing however, for love’s sake I rather appeal to you… for my child Onesimus”. Paul is making an appeal to Philemon for Onesimus.
Let’s be realistic here… Onesimus was a runaway slave. Paul knew that it would be a major challenge for Philemon to forgive him but, Paul is hoping… praying that he does. Paul says to Philemon, “accept him as you would me…”.
Then, Paul adds, “…if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything “CHARGE THAT TO MY ACCOUNT.”.
Paul is saying, “Philemon, if you can’t forgive him then, do it for me…. Put it on my account.”
When someone gets hurt, it is easy… easy… to focus on the hurt.
Someone says, “I don’t love you any more”…. That stings.
Someone says, “You will never amount to anything”… that stings.
A parent says, “You aren’t like your brother or sister….” That stings.
A church member says, “You are the worst Preacher I’ve ever heard” or, “You are the worse Pastor I’ve ever seen….” Those things hurt.
A group of people say, “We think you should resign…” those things hurt.
A child tells a parent, “I hate you!”…. that stings.
When those things happen, it can be TOUGH to forgive. Some never do.
But, Jesus taught us we should forgive.
Now, you may forgive someone but the memory lingers. You may drive by a place where you experienced some hurt and the memories come to your mind.
In the movie “Forrest Gump,” Forest girl-friend Jenny had probably lived in abusive home as a child. Years later she comes home to see Forrest. She and Forrest are out walking when she sees the old shack where she was raised. All of a sudden, bad memories fill her mind, and rage grows in her heart. Then, she starts throwing rocks. She throws and she throws and she throws until she gets off-balance and falls down. Sitting on the ground, Forrest doesn’t know what to say but finally says, “Some times, there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Forrest was right… sometimes there aren’t enough rocks to throw when someone hurts us.
But, with the help of the Lord, we forgive and move on.
I encourage you, if there is someone you need to forgive, to do it. It does no good for us to hang on to hurt.