Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” I was reminded of this scripture following a recent conversation with my son about forgiveness. As fragile, imperfect human beings, we sometimes let our emotions get the better of us. It seems so easy to feel wronged or hurt; to hold onto that hurt and harbor ill-will, however, falls far short of what God requires of us as Christians. It is not a simple thing to “forgive and forget,” but we are called to forgive.
My eight year old and his best friend were recently engaging in some verbal sparring when the friend took things a little too far and my son’s feelings were hurt deeply. The friend immediately apologized, but my son refused to accept the apology, preferring to wallow in his personal pain and host a magnificent pity party. Even after reminding my son of the Lord’s Prayer and God’s desire for us to forgive others as we ask Him to forgive us, he refused to accept the apology. I was disappointed, but I was also immediately convicted knowing that I’ve found myself in similar situations many times. Even when the hurt isn’t directly or purposely inflicted on me as an individual, I sometimes find myself feeling the sting of an injustice or offense and responding with less than admirable words and feelings. As a child of God, I am instantly convicted, but often ashamed and reluctant to seek God’s forgiveness due to my shame for feeling and reacting in a way that I know is not acceptable to Him.
In our humanity, we falter, we fail, but God’ love, mercy and grace are always with us. When we are convicted, we are to learn from our shortcomings and add it to our lessons learned and our personal testimony and use these to help others, as I hope that I have helped my son through my empathy and in sharing the truths that God has shared with us through His Holy Word. We are not perfect and our Lord and Savior does not require us to be perfect, but He does want us to trust Him and to follow Him and live by His Word. Each of us is a work in progress and learning to forgive and be forgiving in nature is journey in itself. My son did eventually forgive his friend and when we prayed together later that evening and he asked God to forgive him for his “bad feelings.” I could not have been more pleased. It was a wonderful learning and growth experience for both of us.