Guest blog: Joyce Gamboa (yep! my wife!)
How can I forgive others?
There can only be forgiveness when you are hurt. Speaking of, how far can we go in forgiving someone? Is there a limit, like, “I can forgive him if he steal my car, but if he steal my promotion…well that’s a different story”, or what if, your siblings sold you to be someone else’s slave, amidst your vehement refusal? That situation means that you won’t be seeing your parents, you will no longer go to school, nor see your friends and you’ll be totally rubbed off of your youth. Can, and will you forgive your brothers? Joseph can! (Genesis 37-45) And so can we. Joseph, who like us, is just an ordinary guy, with an ordinary life and dreams. And just like him, we were all commanded by God to forgive; not just once, not even 7 times, but seventy times seven.
It will be hard for us to forgive, if we will base it on our feelings. That is because our feelings are erratic, We must forgive not because we want to, but because we have to. So, how do we forgive a person we really really hate?
Choose to pray for that person – not for his early demise, but for her hurts to heal (it’s true that hurt people, hurt people); pray for God to forgive their sins (pray for them to be sorry for their transgression); and pray for God to bless them. “Oh, what’s the use, this person is a hardcore thief”, well, your prayers may or may not affect that person directly, but it will definitely affect you. As you pray, there will be a transformation of the heart, and there will be compassion and understanding, and in the end you will see that person differently. Luke 6:28 says, “…bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Choose to forgive. This is tough, but again, the bible is telling us that if we don’t do otherwise, the Father won’t forgive our trespasses either. (Matt.6:14-15) Yes, the Lord has already forgiven our sins –past, present, future- but if we don’t forgive we will always carry the guilt and it will make us feel unforgiven. Again, let’s take Joseph as our inspiration, when he saw his brothers who sold him to slavery, he must have wanted to kick them and throw insult at their faces. Instead, he gave them food. He must be a saint! No, at that time he was just a regular guy. Joseph chose to bless them. “…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 Instead of revenge, he opted to do something good to them. He did so because he knew that there was a reason for that offense in the past. And true enough, his hurts gave birth to the Jewish nation.
For most of us, forgiveness is the most expensive commodity around, but not with God. Everyday He’s been dealing with our petty sins, our big sins, He forgives us after executing one sin after the other. And our closet full of skeletons, well He accepted them all, no big deal. Forgiving is a staple thing for Him. The forgiveness that He is asking from us is just a fraction of what we are receiving from Him, everyday.
Forgiveness is not just for the saints, or the brave – it is for us, the mistreated, those who suffered pain from others. Because inside each one of us is a weak heart… and behind it is a strong God.