Perhaps one of the hardest things God calls us to do is to forgive others....that is, unless we learn the blessing of being a forgiving person. The importance of forgiving someone else probably doesn't cross our mind until something happens and we are hurt, offended, treated unfairly or misrepresented.
The process of forgiving doesn't have to be so difficult. After all, since we are human and involved in a battle against sin, we know how important it is for us to be forgiven by God. But the fact still remains, the lesson of being a forgiving person ourselves, is often painful. It's painful because we are the injured party and in the driver's seat with the tendency of wanting to set the rules and conditions of forgiving others. It would be so easy for us to tell someone they are forgiven but the real test comes when the genuineness and sincerity of forgiving someone is examined.
Human nature comes into the picture when we, the injured party, are hurt by someone and we want to hurt them back. We prefer making them simmer in the guilt of what they have done, making them suffer a little, before we decide if we are going to forgive them. When that happens, we are actually attempting to take care of God's business and have gone beyond what God should expect of us. Paul warns us, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)
One Christian writer explained it this way. "Forgiveness is a choice we make through a decision of our will, motivated by obedience to God and the commandment he give us to forgive." In fact, the Bible even instructs us to forgive others, as God has forgiven us.
Lewis B. Smedes wrote in his book, Forgive and Forget, "When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself."
Read carefully what Jesus says in Matthew 8. Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. That tells me forgiveness could be a continuing thing. We may have to keep forgiving over and over again. But then, isn't that the same way God deals with us when we keep offending and hurting him, over and over again?
Numerous scholars agree the best way to forgive others is to start praying for them. That helps us to see them as God sees them. It allows us to appreciate they, too, are important and precious to God. If he extends grace to us, by forgiving our wrongdoings, then we should be extending grace toward those who hurt us. And yes, we need to consider these things even more, when we are praying for those who offend us.