There was a tragedy in our home recently. Mr. Peepers, my daughter Laura’s beloved pet parakeet had an unfortunate and fatal encounter with our young cat, Oreo.
Like any child (or adult) who loses a pet, Laura was heartbroken. She cried for days. Even though she was really, really sad, she maintained a level of maturity and grace that I hadn’t expected a 7 year old to be capable of. When I asked her if she was angry at Oreo, the feline offender, she said, “Sort of, but she didn’t really know any better. She was just doing what cats are supposed to do.”
What a sweet example of forgiveness! Let’s face it…forgiveness deosn’t come naturally or easily, especially when you’ve been deeply hurt, or when the person who hurt you is unrepentant. But, when you think about it, who suffers most when we hold a grudge? When we refuse to forgive, we prevent our own wounds from healing.
Not only are we hurting ourselves when we hold back forgiveness, but we’re also hurting our relationship with God. God will not hear your prayers, accept your offerings or even offer you forgiveness when you refuse to forgive others.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14&15)
Matthew is also where we find the parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Even after his master forgave his large debt, he refused to forgive the smaller debts of another. Jesus ends this parable saying, “In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:34-35)
God knows how deeply we hurt ourselves and hinder our spiritual growth when we harden our hearts toward others. If you are still holding a grudge ask God today to help you find the grace to forgive