SPF 251: How Can I Forgive When I Don’t Want To or Don’t Feel Like I Can?

Ephesians 4:32 says, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” But what if we struggle with forgiving someone? What are we to do?

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A Few Thoughts on Forgiveness

First, forgiveness is the pardon or remission of a debt. A willingness to consider the offender not guilty. It is a Christian duty and done out of the power of Christ at work in us.

Second, forgiveness does not mean we ignore what happened. The Bible gives clear instruction for confrontation, reconciliation if possible, and a path forward for personal healing and growth.

Third, we do not wait to forgive until the other person wants to be forgiven. Forgiveness is something we work out in our hearts regardless of the other person.

Fourth, forgiveness puts our hope in God as the one who will righteously judge, execute consequences as He sees is good and just and wise, and who takes care of us despite what sinful people do to us.

Fifth, forgiving someone doesn’t always mean a relationship will or should be restored. As far as it depends on us, we should live peaceably with others, but there are  examples in Scripture where a restored relationship might not happen. Forgiveness is still required.

How Do we Forgive When we Don’t Feel Like it?

But what happens when we don’t want to forgive or we feel like we can’t forgive?

Charles Spurgeon preached on forgiveness many times and I will quote him a lot in this episode – but he has given great explanation of Ephesians 4:32

And preaching through this verse we learn this about Christ’s forgivness:

  1. That he has done it certainly.

    1. “Pardon is not a prize to be run for, but a blessing received at the first step of the race. If you have believed in Jesus your sin has all gone— all gone; all your sin has been erased from the records of the past, never to be mentioned against you for ever.” – Spurgeon

  2. That he has done it continuously

    1. “He not only forgave us at the first all our sins, but he continues daily to forgive, for the act of forgiveness is a continuous one. I know I was forgiven, when first I believed in Christ; and I am equally sure of it now: the one absolution continues to ring in my ears like joy-bells which never cease. Pardon once given continues to be given.” – Spurgeon

  3. That he does it freely

    1. “We did nothing to obtain it by merit, and we brought nothing wherewith to purchase it. He forgave us for Christ’s sake, not for aught that we had done. True, we did repent, and did believe, but repentance and faith he gave us, so that he did not forgive us for the sake of them, but purely of his own dear love, because he delighteth in mercy, and is never more like himself than when he passeth by transgression, iniquity, and sin.” – Spurgeon

  4. He has done it eternally

    1. “He will never rake up our past offences and a second time impute them. He will not find us on an evil day, and say, “I have had great patience with you, but now will I deal with you after your sins.” Far otherwise; he that believeth in Jesus hath everlasting life, and shall never come into condemnation. Irreversible is the pardon of heaven.” – Spurgeon

  5. He forgives completely.

    1. “The Lord lets bygones be bygones so completely that he trusts pardoned souls with his secrets, for “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him”; and he entrusts some of us with his choicest treasures, for Paul said, “He hath put me in trust with the gospel, though I was a blasphemer.” He commits to our keeping that priceless casket which encloses the best hope of men, namely, the gospel of Jesus. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” This shows how perfect is our forgiveness” – Spurgeon

If you are struggling to forgive – go to the cross where Christ died for your sins – freely, joyfully, enduring much suffering and pain. think of what his forgiveness means for your life and think of what it means to trust in his pardon. Then think what it means to be an imitator of Christ – how can we imitate his forgiveness that he so richly lavishes on us?

Spurgeon Sermons





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