The Nature of Forgiveness

“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” (Philemon 1:4-7 ESV)

This is a letter I recently received regarding the subject of forgiveness. I trust it will edify you as it did me. 
I want to tell you how much I appreciate this series of messages on Forgiveness. This is something I'm really struggling with lately. Today's message helped me to pinpoint some of the things that are standing in my way.

I've been asking myself why this is so hard. Of course, most of the answers to the question "Why?" come from the fact that I am human.

As a human, I want to exchange forgiveness for retribution. I also realize that the person(s) that have hurt me the most will probably NEVER understand the extreme turmoil they have caused in my life: my feelings and life seem to be trivial to them.

But, after today's sermon I began to ask myself exactly what is standing in the way of me putting away the points that you touched on- (bitterness) wrath, anger, slander, etc.

I have come to the realization that most of it is pride and self-pity. As I said, I would rather exchange forgiveness for retribution. But God says to forgive- plain and simple. He doesn't say forgive when the other person finally realizes the pain they have caused or when the offender has apologized.

He doesn't say forgive when you feel vindicated. He just says to forgive; not just to forgive when certain criteria have been met by the other person. This week my prayers will not only be to help me forgive, but to help me rid myself of pride and self-pity.

As we are reminded, there is no such thing as coincidence and the fact that I am wrestling with forgiveness at the time you have chosen to make this your topic is just one more reminder to me that God is answering my prayers.

I want you to know that you are helping me through some really tough issues in my life. I love my church family! Thank you!

Soli deo Gloria!