I once heard a story of how cattle ranchers out west must go down to the watering holes on cold mornings to chip away any ice that may have accumulated over night. Just a few pokes here and there quickly break up the ice and allows the animals to drink. What do you think would happen if the cold weather continued and if the ranchers never broke up the ice? Of course, it would eventually become thicker and thicker—perhaps even to the point where it was impenetrable and extremely hard to break though.
If we allow it to, failure to forgive someone who has done us wrong can become just like that ice: eventually growing so thick that our heart becomes hardened to the point that forgiveness almost seems impossible. But why should we forgive? And, is it possible to forgive, no matter what they may have done?
When Jesus went to the cross, He did so to account for every sin we have or ever would commit. The Bible says in 2Cor 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come”. In other words, our old self has died, our past is erased, and we have been given a new and eternal identity in Him. Our ability to receive His forgiveness is not only what gives us the ability to forgive others, but also the commandment to do so.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie Fireproof is when Caleb (played by Kirk Cameron) and his dad are discussing Caleb’s frustrations with his wife, Catherine. They are out walking around an old church camp in the woods. The conversation hits its peak when Caleb cries out to his dad, “How am I supposed to forgive someone over and over again who constantly rejects me?!” Caleb’s dad leans against a cross in the camp and simply replies, “That’s a good question.” The full weight of the moment hits Caleb as he suddenly understands that it’s not about him forgiving his wife—it’s about him receiving God’s forgiveness first!
The same is true in our lives. Despite what someone has done to us, once we have received the forgiveness of sins that only God can provide, we simply cannot, nor will not want to, hold it against others. Just like the ranchers chipping away the ice in the field, we should be allowing God to chip away the hardness of our hearts:
- Forgiving the other parent
- Forgiving our own father or mother
- Forgiving ourselves
The more time we can spend with God in the Word and prayer on this, the greater the healing we can and will experience. One of my all-time favorite songs is “Forgiveness” by Matthew West. I pray it is a blessing to you on your journey towards healing and forgiving others; a freedom that only comes through a personal relationship with Christ.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. –Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)