How Can I Forgive? (Colossians 3:13)
Sometimes we have relationship problems with other human beings. Not you, of course. You get along with everyone great, never offended. Sorry if I offended you by bringing that up. I said, “sorry,” so shouldn’t we just move on? OK. You get the point—we’ve got all of this flesh bumping into each other like Olympic hockey players. We get tension, hurt feelings, and fractured relationships. Some other people (not you, of course) have said or done some mean things to you, and now you might have a hard time speaking with or even looking at those people. Just bringing this up might conjure up imaginations of one particular person and several incidents. Even if you had all the kings horses and all the kings men, you don’t know if you could put back together this relationship. Even if he tries to apologize, you don’t know how you can forgive.
To start, since you’ve put off the old man and put on the new man, that is, since you’ve been converted, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and have your position in Christ, you can forbear. Your new nature tends toward forbearance. The answer to “can’t we all get along?” is “yes.” As much as so much has been done for you in the way of forbearance and forgiveness, you can forbear and forgive too. You want to. There is much more that you can take, can put up with, can endure, because no one can take away from you what is most important to you. So it’s hard to offend you in the first place, but once someone has sinned against you, and repents, you can forgive too.
Sometimes someone has really performed a doozy of an offensive act against you. Really repugnant. Really taken advantage of you. Something more than opening his car door into your paint job. At least you don’t think you can get over this. And perhaps you are considering the source, a character who is unforgiveable. You seem to have quite a case against someone, quite a “quarrel” against him. You have this grudge against him. So you just don’t know how to forgive. You want to. The bitterness might even be starting to eat you up inside. You know that you’re supposed to have reconciliation with other believers (Matthew 5:23-24).
You’re asking, “How can I forgive?” People are often held back by this paralysis. They don’t see it as possible. The Bible answers that question in Colossians 3:13. And it is the only description of “how to forgive” in the Bible. How do we forgive? We forgive as Jesus forgave. How did He forgive? When you think of how He forgave you, you have your answer. Did you offend Him worse than anyone? Even more than how much you’ve been offended by anyone else? Yes. Did He require a pound of flesh from you? No. Was He of purer and nobler sensibilities than you? Yes. Was He of greater value than you? Yes. Did He only partially forgive? No. Did He clear the path between you and Him completely with His forgiveness? Yes. Did He want to forgive? Yes. Did Jesus leave any quarrels or grudges over what you’ve done, once you repented? No. Well, that’s how you forgive. Like Jesus did. You can do that if you’ve been forgiven, because you’re a new man.