"Not willing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
As Christians, we are called to forgive and love our enemies (Luke 6:27-31). A common thing that I hear is, "If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you." Jesus says just the opposite. He commands us to love those who are not nice to us. He also tells us that if we do not forgive others, he will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). It's sometimes impossible for us to forgive people. But that's okay. God doesn't want you to do it on your own. He does it for you if you're willing to let him. The love of the Holy Spirit that God has poured into our hearts will give us the power to forgive (Romans 5:5). Here's an example that shows the power of God's love in action:
"The place was Ravensbruck and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard; one of the most cruel guards. Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!"
And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course. How could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard there." No, he did not remember me,
"But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, will you forgive me?"
And I stood there. I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven, could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’ I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that. And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.
For those of you who don't know, Corrie ten Boom was a devout Christian who lived during the Holocaust. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to multiple concentration camps for hiding Jews. Betsie died in the concentration camp and Corrie was "mistakenly" released a week before all the other women her age in the camp were killed. She was a great woman of faith and after the war, she traveled all around the world preaching the gospel and sharing her testimony. But, she wrestled with forgiveness. No one would blame Corrie if she was a bitter, angry person after the Holocaust. But instead of hanging around in the land of resentment, Jesus helped her to forgive her enemies, and now she's a huge inspiration to many. It wasn't Corrie's love that was able to forgive. It was God's love in Corrie. If you're struggling to forgive someone right now, pray. Ask God to give you his love. Sometimes we just can't forgive. Jesus doesn't expect us to forgive on our own. We can't, but Jesus, who lives inside of us, can.
"When I try, I fail. When I trust, He succeeds!" -Corrie ten Boom
Proverbs 25:21-22 - If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.
Romans 12:14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 - Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.