In a Rush song called “Wish Them Well,” the lyricist Neil Peart speaks of letting go of grudges, and basically forgiving all who have wronged you, and shaking off any ill will at any time.
This comes from one who’s been through so much. Within 18 months, Neil lost his only daughter in a car accident, and his wife — his best friend — to cancer. Apart from God, it’s amazing that this man managed to survive it all. Even more amazing is that despite his desperate search for understanding, researching various religions and cults, he has still failed to know God.
And one who lost so much still believes in Hope and Love. And that Life is worth living, no matter who you are and what you believe. If he can preach forgiveness, what’s wrong with so many professed Christians who can’t?
If you are unwilling to forgive, then perhaps you do not truly understand the forgiveness you have received through the blood of Christ.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” — Mark 11:25
And in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus models for us:
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” — Luke 11:4
And then, most specifically, Jesus says,
“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” — Matthew 6:15
One who claims to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ, a follower of God, cannot have an unforgiving heart. While one may have to go through the daily process of forgiveness because a wound is so deep, the forgiveness is still given.
Unforgiveness is akin to hatred which, as Jesus says, is akin to murder. And to commit murder and remain unrepentant is to live in death, apart from God. Since this is in contradiction to the Spirit of God, who lives within all of God’s adopted children, through Christ, a true Christian cannot remain unrepentant and unforgiving.
“Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” — Leviticus 19:17
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”— Matthew 5:21-22
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” — 1 John 2:9-11
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” — 1 John 3:15
“If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” — 1 John 4:20
So, if you claim to be a Christian, and you still harbor a grudge against someone, it’s time to let it go. It’s time to ask God to help you forgive by praying for the person(s) who have hurt you. Only when you can pray for them can you know you have truly forgiven them.
And if you are unwilling to forgive, you have set yourself against God and he will not forgive you. Any Grudge you hold you do so as an Anchor to Satan and eternal death.
And, ironically, the person(s) whom you may choose not to forgive often don’t know of or understand the wrongs you feel were against you. They may, in fact, find salvation through their repentance, in God’s saving grace, all the while you’re swimming eternally in a lake of fire because of your own pride.
Besides, forgiveness is for your sake, not theirs. You can never truly be at peace, or have joy, or experience any of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) until you let go of the chains that bind you to that grudge. Hatred is a powerful weapon. But it’s not one that you can wield; because it can only be used as a self-inflicted weapon of bondage.
How’s that for irony?