There exist three spirits of giving in the human heart: giving, forgiving, and thanksgiving. Where one dwells, the others usually reside as well. Behind a loving heart, no guile or bitterness may be found toward their brothers or sisters in Christ (1 Cor. 13:4-7). If one closes off the heart to forgiving another person, then the individual needs to ask why?
The unforgiving nature within the modern society goes beyond stubbornness. People search out reasons to be offended. Perhaps they think such offense gives them privileges or entitlements to get what they want. The Americanized mind clings to grudges in regard to tones of voice, implications (that may or may not have been inferred), how one looks at another person, or simply just feelings. If a person feels like another individual or institution offends them, even if the other person or company has a legitimate reason for doing what they are doing, then the offended gets to criticize and point the finger, and if the offended individual rallies enough support and outcry, then the offended acquires what they want and humiliates the offender. In other words, if a person throws a big enough fit, then the individual gets his/her way. The media services proliferate stories of offended people getting their way enough, that society now seeks out this unforgiving attitude to obtain what they want. More and more people push away opportunities to forgive and move on, rather a great many seek to embarrass and traumatize anyone who offends them.
An offended person should ask, “Do I care more about being right than reconciling? Do I care more about looking right than living right? Do I expect the offender to do all the work in reconciliation? Do I take pleasure in seeing another person beg for my forgiveness? Am I always in the right?” If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then one has rot in the heart that has caused an unforgiving attitude! What can a person who refuses to reconcile with another person do?
A Christian must always keep the ‘big picture’ in mind and never allow foolish pride to fog the heart! Forgiveness exists not in ignoring those who wrong me while brooding in my mind about all the horrible actions taken against me. Forgiveness does not discuss the person’s inexcusable and thoughtless offense with others in an attempt to collect a horde of support against the person before approaching the offender. God observes all such actions as cowardly and unlawful! Forgiveness is necessary and important because (1) it is a command (Mark 11:25; Col. 3:13), (2) the example of Christ compels it (Luke 23:34; 1 Peter 2:21-22), (3) the example of early disciples teaches it (Acts 7:60), (4) love calls for it (1 Cor. 13:4; 1 Peter 4:8), (5) forgive because I have been forgiven (Eph. 4:32; Matt. 18:23-35), and (6) in order that I might be forgiven in the future (Matt. 6:12,14,15; Mark 11:25).
How does a Christian learn and cultivate a forgiving heart? Christians must remember that hatred, ill will, and bitterness, may harm the object of disdain, but does for more harm to the one who hates! The joys in life should never be overshadowed with hate and grudges. Essentially, life is too short to hold on to grudges. One may have no guilt or shadow in their mind when despising another person but consider in what state the world might be if Christ had possessed such an unloving and unmerciful attitude toward those who offended Him and His Father’s law. If a Christian expects to be forgiven by God, the Christian in turn must be forgiving to others (Matt. 6:12,14,15). A Christian who possesses trouble learning how to forgive should first pray about it after taking time to put his/her mind in the right place, which is being humble before God and remembering the aforementioned (Phil. 4:6; James 1:5). One should practice praying for the offender sincerely after a godly mind has prevailed and the heat of emotions have passed. Christ states, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Even if the person who has made the offense makes no effort to reconcile or has no care to what he/she has done, the Christian should still pray for the offender and treat the person with care and kindness that the offender may have no evil thing to say against the Christian (Luke 17:3; Titus 2:7,8).