Forgiveness is a touchy subject for many people. For many people, even just hearing the word conjures up images of hurtful things people have done to us. Add to that the overwhelming feeling that there are some people that simply don’t deserve to be forgiven for what they did. In reality, no one really deserves to be forgiven, yet God instructs us to forgive them anyway.  

Why are we to forgive people? Is it to bless them? Because if they hurt me, then the last thing my human nature wants to do is bless them! The crazy thing is that God commands us to forgive others because it actually blesses us. He often likes to work things in what would seem a backwards way to us, thereby asking us to do something incredibly difficult to provide an incredible blessing in our lives. And believe it or not, forgiveness has more to do with us, than the person we are to forgive. So just how are we blessed when we forgive others? Here are a just a few ways.

Forgiving causes us to be more like Jesus

Many people see forgiveness as something that weak people do. But forgiveness doesn’t make you weak, it actually makes you stronger! Anyone can hold a grudge, but it takes strong faith to forgive someone who has wronged you. Jesus definitely wasn’t weak and in his last dying moments, He forgave the criminals being crucified with Him on the cross, as well as those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:32-43).

Our goal as Christ followers is ultimately to be like Christ. He forgave us of our sins even though we were undeserving of it, so if we are to be like Him, we are to forgive others too.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13).

Forgiving allows us to have a greater influence on others

“You can catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar” is how the saying goes, and it really is true! The best way to get people’s attention and win them over isn’t by being a jerk, but by being kind and treating them better than they deserve to be treated, just as Jesus does to us. People just aren’t used to being treated like this in the world, especially those who don’t know the love of Christ. So instead of treating them like everyone else in the world, we will be so much more of an influence if we treat them how Jesus would treat them!

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgiving brings us closer to God

We have to be in close communion with God to be able to forgive someone and when we step out and get past our pain to do so, we are reminded of exactly what God did for us when He sent His son to die for our sins. Forgiveness takes humility and it is in a humble state of mind that we remember just how undeserving we were and are of God’s forgiveness. As a result we draw closer to Him and become more thankful for what He has done for us.  

In addition, when we are holding a grudge against someone, that person and whatever pain was inflicted on us consume a large amount of our thoughts and feelings, thereby leaving less room in our brain for God and His Word. Not to mention when we fill our head and heart with hatred and anger, it’s kind of heart to fellowship with a loving, peaceful God because they just don’t go hand in hand. That’s why Jesus told us to forgive others before we pray because He knows that if we don’t, our heart really won’t be in the right place to fellowship with Him!

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (Mark 11:25).