How to be Happy: Forgiveness
December 11, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. - Matthew 6:12 NKJV.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV.
Psychologists for years have concentrated on the negatives, but there are a growing number who are now focusing on the positives. Positives such as how we can be happy, and what it is that makes a person happy. One of the character traits that contribute to happiness, has been found to be a readiness to forgive, or an easy forgiveness. Psychologists have found that the trait most strongly linked to happiness is forgiveness. University of Michigan Psychologist Christopher Peterson says of forgiveness, “It’s the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by.”
Those who are Christians know what a great weight unforgiven sin can be. As Christians we also know what a great joy it is to go to our Lord Jesus in confession and repentance, and be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). What joy to know that the weight, the burden of our failures has been washed away, and that we have been made as white as snow in the sight of our God! In much the same way that the weight of our own sin bears upon us, there is also a burden, a weight, a cost for being unwilling to forgive others. That burden is in knowing that we are living outside of the will of God. That cost is a high cost coming in the form of increasing unhappiness, and often resulting in a physical manifestation of deteriorating health.
How can we forgive when someone has hurt us? We must always remember that we were the enemy of God and yet Jesus died for us that we might be forgiven. Our love for our Savior should be more than our hatred for our enemy. God calls upon us to forgive, He pleads with us to forgive, He warns us to forgive. The Bible has much to say about forgiveness: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).” “…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:13).” “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).”
If you are having difficulty forgiving someone, begin to pray for that person, and ask God to bless their lives. At the same time, ask God to help you to be able to forgive. I think you will find that it is very hard to harbor hatred toward someone you are truly praying for. Allow yourself to be happy. Forgive!