I like to do my jogging on the country roads behind my subdivision. It’s quiet, there are no bad smells, and I usually get to see interesting things like flowers, dead snakes, interesting litter, and everything around me growing. As I was jogging this morning, I remembered how some days in high school I had to walk to school. It was a 3 mile walk. Yes, I know, ha ha, uphill, both ways. One day as I was walking to school, someone drove past me and threw a half eaten sandwich at me, and it struck. It hurt a little (even a sandwich hurts when it hits you at 40mph). I remember I never did find out who did it, but I do forgive them. Today I thought about the question: when someone harms us, what is our reaction?
The Bible says that there will be two groups of people in eternity: those who are saved and living with God, and those who are unsaved, and suffering in Hell without God. Every person that trusts Christ as Savior will be saved from hell, and forgiven by God for every sin they have ever committed. How can we look at someone whom God has forgiven and say, “I do not forgive you.” So it seems pretty clear that we should forgive believers for anything they do to us.
But what about unbelievers? They are not forgiven by God, so should we forgive them? The answer is yes. God offers them forgiveness, they simply reject it, that is why they are unforgiven. But what about justice, you say. That man stole my (fill in the blank)! Consider this: an unbeliever, at the end of their life, will receive the worst kind of justice imaginable, and will endure that judgment for the rest of eternity. What greater punishment could there be? Do not worry that justice will not be done.
Jesus said, ““For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15). This seems pretty clear that the attitude of a true Christian is one of forgiveness to those who harm us, whether believer or unbeliever.
Forgiveness ultimately reveals the character of the person who gives it, rather than the person who receives it. If you do not forgive those who have wronged you, you become a bitter person who holds grudges. We are supposed to become more and more like Christ as we walk on His road. He forgave those who crucified Him: how can we not forgive those who wrong us?