“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
I’ve often heard it said, “Hurt people – hurt people,” and I have to say, most often, this is the case. One of the hardest things to do is to extend grace, compassion, and loving kindness toward people who have hurt us. Actually, we often hope even God will also withhold His grace, compassion, and loving kindness toward others who have offended us in some way. Have you experienced this emotion recently, or are you feeling this way now?
In chapter one of the book of Jonah, we discover a prophet who is in direct communication with God. He claims to fear God and serve Him faithfully. Yet, he chooses to disobey God out of a desire to see the people of Nineveh suffer because of their wickedness. Like Jonah, we too are often tempted to adopt an attitude of judgment while believing we are rightly worthy of God’s loving kindness and unconditional forgiveness.
It can be difficult to deny a desire for payback and embrace forgiveness.
In Jonah chapter four, Jonah is angry because God chose to forgive the people of Nineveh. As a matter of fact, he is so angry, he even asks God to take his life. He would rather be dead than to see his enemy receive God’s forgiveness. Yet, God out of unconditional love for those he’s created reminds Jonah that while he had compassion for things he did not create, God is justified in having compassion on lost people whom He did create.
“Then the Lord said, ‘You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000
people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals.
Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?’”
Jonah 4:10-11 (NLT)
God wants us to understand and embrace this same principle as well. As Christians, we have been greatly blessed and graciously forgiven by God, even when we don’t deserve it. In return, God expects us to extend that same understanding and forgiveness to others, even when they might not deserve it.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
Begin practicing compassion and forgiveness today by working through the following four steps.
- Confess any un-forgiveness or bitterness you have toward people who’ve hurt you.
- Write down the names of those who have hurt you and pray for them.
- Ask God to heal your heart and help you overcome your hurt.
- Memorize Colossian 3:12-13 and make it your goal to make these characteristics an integral part of your everyday life.