Let's be honest, forgiveness is one of the hardest things I've had to do. When I am hurt by someone the last thing I want to do is forgive that person. I sit in my corner and pout like a two-year-old. I avoid the confrontation completely by isolating myself. What does this do to my heart and to my character?
As a result of an unforgiving heart, I become bitter and angry. Holding onto the hurt caused by someone else doesn't hurt the other person. It only hurts me.
According to the Mayo Clinic, harboring a grudge against others can cause:
High blood pressure
Low immune system
Wow! Who knew holding onto pain caused by someone else could be so harmful to us? Jesus knows. During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers how to live a virtuous life. Among many other things, He tells them in Matthew 5:7:
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy
To be merciful to someone is to have compassion or forgiveness. Jesus shows us that in order to have mercy shown to us, we are to give mercy to others. Why? Because part of God's character is to show us His mercy. Do you really think other people have hurt us more than we may have hurt God? I can tell you from my own experience, the answer is no. God's desire is for me to live to please Him, but how many times have I fallen short? Many times. He showed his mercy to me when Jesus bore my sins as He was beaten by the Romans. God showed His mercy for me as Jesus hung on the Cross and took His last breath. That is the day I was forgiven for my sins.