On Anger and Forgiveness

They hurt you.

Maybe they meant to. But it’s hard to move on and forgive when they seem to forget all about you. Or maybe they didn’t mean to, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t forget. And so you remember, and you seethe, and you stew, hoping someday they’ll get what’s coming to them. And the years pass on your anger, but nothing seems to change. Their life moves on, and you find yours does, too. And all that’s left is the semblance of anger turned to indifference.

Yes, they hurt you, but who cares about them, anyway? They’ll pay. Indifference turns to pride, pride to arrogance, arrogance to vengeance.

But vengeance only belongs to the Lord.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about forgiveness.

When I was going through a struggle and believed someone had wronged me, I wanted vengeance. I wanted to see them crumble. My circumstance made me believe they were my enemy, and how could I hope that anything good could happen for them? How could I want them to be successful? How could I want anything but destruction for them?

Well, I was wrong.

Let go and let God. It’s a cliché these days, but it’s exactly what you need to do when you believe someone has wronged you. Maybe they did. Maybe they really hurt you, but for your sake, you have to forgive and let God take care of it. It isn’t a matter of, “well, what if they don’t get punished?” If a wrong has truly been committed, rest assured, God will take care of it either now or on judgment day. But you should hope that that person gets right and is forgiven for what they’ve done because you shouldn’t want anyone to have to suffer for eternity.

They’re only human, after all. Like you. How many mistakes have you made in your life? And how many times have you asked God to forgive you? And yet you want to hold a mistake over another’s head?

Forgive them.

Jesus taught Peter what forgiveness really is about in Matthew 18.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

Matthew 18:21-22 KJV

Of course, Jesus did not mean for Peter or anyone to literally count up to 490 until they could stop forgiving a person for wrongdoing. It’s not about the numbers or keeping track. It’s about always having a spirit of forgiveness.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

Ephesians 4:26 KJV

Anger is not sinful in itself, and it is okay to be upset when someone wrongs you, but holding onto hurt and anger leads to bitterness.

I had a conversation once with someone about an offence that was believed to have taken place. This person told me they had begun to pray for the one who had allegedly committed the offence and that they had told another confidant about it. They relayed to me that the confidant had allegedly asked them, “Why would you pray for them to be blessed? They’re your enemy.”

Whether this was truly said or not, it was the wrong sentiment about such a situation. You shouldn’t want anyone to have to suffer or possibly spend eternity in hell. When someone hurts you, pray for them. If they’ve truly done wrong, pray that God changes them and that they receive His forgiveness for what they’ve done.

“But I say unto you which I hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

Luke 6:27-28 KJV

This passage in Luke 6 and the subsequent verses are a great study on the spirit of forgiveness. It takes strength to truly forgive someone who has hurt you, but the more you do it, the more Christlike you will become. The more you forgive, the more your love for people will grow. You’ll begin to understand people better. You’ll begin to truly care about people more. We are to be merciful as He is merciful (see Luke 6:36). When someone hurts you, give yourself time to sort through your anger maturely and privately, and then forgive.

Love people even when it’s hard. Let God change their heart and yours. Let God handle the offence. And let the matter go.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV

The Most Important Decision

Ah, l’ amour.

The thing that makes men and women do silly things to impress each other. The thing that makes people giddy, nervous, anxious, and nauseous. The thing that makes the stomach flip-flop, the heart race, and the palms sweaty.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

All those things may seem like love to many young people looking for a new or first relationship. Some may base their love for a crush on a feeling—butterflies in their stomach. Yes, some forms of love are based on emotion, but emotions are fleeting due to the nature of changing hormones and chemical reactions in the brain (dopamine and norepinephrine, for example, which are chemicals the brain releases when we feel attraction). It’s when the emotional high of love wears off that love becomes much more than what we feel. It becomes a conscious decision.

We choose to love a person and stay committed to that person. And in this same way must we approach our relationship with God.

One doesn’t have true love if he or she only loves his or her spouse when things are going well. One doesn’t truly love God if he or she only loves God during Sunday and Wednesday service.

True love is a constant, daily decision.

What is more important than choosing whom we will marry and love for the rest of our earthly life is choosing whom we will serve for all eternity.

God chooses to love us despite our flaws. No matter how much we error, He still welcomes us back into His Presence with open arms. And so, we must choose to love and stay committed to Him. Every morning, we must renew our love for the One Who loves us unconditionally. We must choose Him each day and fall deeper in love with Him.

Love, real love, is not temporary or based on what we feel in any given moment. That’s why spouses who truly love each other can stay married to each other despite having disagreements. They’ve already made up their mind to love their spouse no matter what.

Charity—true love, agape love—endures all things and does not fail (see 1 Corinthians 13).

This is the kind of love that will never fade. If we model our love for others after Jesus’ love for us, then it will endure forever, rooted not in our emotion but rooted in our determination.

This Valentine’s day (whether you’re single, dating, or married), choose to set time aside to celebrate God’s unconditional love for you. Renew your decision and commitment to serve and love Him with all of yourself.

Love Him because He first loved you.

This is the most important decision you will ever make.