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 ‘and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us’.  Matthew 6:12 (NLT)

“I forgive you”. Three of the toughest words we will ever say and perhaps the toughest to live out. There are sometimes when forgiveness is easy. Those times when someone does some small infraction that really had no effect on us. They feel far worse than we do. We forgive them, they feel better and that’s the end of it.

It’s those other times when forgiveness is tough. Those times when we’ve been let down by close friends or family. Once is hard, but then it happens over and over again and we begin to doubt their sincerity. They say they are sorry. They say they will try harder or they will ‘never do that again’ but the more they fail the less we believe their words.

There are times forgiveness seems to be completely impossible. You’ve been hurt. The hurt may be physical. The bruises will heal, but the trust has been broken. While physical hurt is painful, the real pain is in the emotions. Emotional scars heal much slower than physical. Sometimes emotional scars never heal. People you meet on the street everyday wear masks and smiles that hide unbearable pain. They are in the coffee shops and restraints. They are in the doctor’s office and the post office. They are in the schools and the churches. They bear the weight of emotional scars and the baggage of not being able to forgive and move on.

Forgiveness is toughest when it isn’t asked for. You’ve been hurt-badly. Once the physical pain is gone the emotional goes on. The perpetrator knows. He/she just doesn’t care. You are left in a pool of pain, sorrow, embarrassment and hurt. Forgiveness certainly isn’t warranted or deserved. It’s not even asked for! But if you don’t forgive, the pain grows like a painful, cancerous growth producing anger, bitterness and hate.

We don’t forgive others because they ask for it or even deserve it. We forgive to free ourselves from the pain. Forgiveness isn’t about them. It’s about you. To forgive the undeserving isn’t about reconciliation, it’s about freedom.

Jesus says we should pray: ‘and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us’ Matthew 6:12 (NLT).  To forgive as we’ve been forgiven! Some forgive conditionally: “If you do this again…”; Others forgive under obligation: “God said I have to forgive you, so I guess I do…”; Others forgive but reserve the right to remind you of this fault at a later, more convenient date.

Jesus says we are to forgive as He does. His forgiveness is complete. All we have to do is come to him, confess our faults and ask forgiveness. Then we move on, trusting His Holy Spirit to empower us to try harder. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we struggle and fail. Always we are forgiven by Him.

There are some people who have hurt you deeply. Forgiveness won’t come through your power. It won’t come overnight. It will some as you rely on God to empower you with the ability to let go of the pain caused by others and be free to let go. Forgiving doesn’t make you less of a person, it makes you more like Jesus.

PRAYER: Father God. You know my heart. There are people in my life that have hurt me deeply and continue to do so. I’m angry, I’m frustrated and bitter. I know I should forgive but have no power to do so. I want to be free of this pain. I want to let go and live more like Jesus. I confess my inability to you and ask you to forgive me. Empower me with your Spirit to forgive and live free of this burden. I Jesus name, Amen.

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