August / September 2017 - Vol. 93

 couple in conflict
The Cost and The Fruit of Forgiveness
by Tom Caballes

"Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
- Matthew 18:21b-22 ESV
We are a sinful people, and we hurt each other with or without intent, especially those close to us; that is why God wants us to forgive and reconcile with one another. But it is extremely difficult to forgive. We need to get out of our comfort zone and talk with people if we have been offended. We need to give up our self-pity and pride. We need to give up our desire for justice and revenge. We need to release people from being unforgiven. It is just so easy to sweep the issues under the carpet - until one day it will just haunt us and burst unexpectedly. But if we forgive, we experience reconciliation, love, freedom, joy, and restoration of relationships. We release ourselves from the bondage of anger and resentment. We stop clinging to the past and live in the present. More importantly, we stop damaging ourselves. Are you willing to pay the cost of forgiving to enjoy its fruits? It is well worth doing.

So How Do You Forgive Others and Move On In Life?

  1. Look at your past are there any backlog of unresolved anger or grudges against anyone, especially those close to you? It might involve people who have already passed away or those who you are not in contact with anymore. You need to look at the different stages of your life and see if you had any resentment against anyone. You need to release them from the heart and surrender them to God. Forgiveness is a decision, and you can forgive even if you do not feel like forgiving.
  2. If the issues are with those who are close to you spouses, family, and close friends - you need to deal with the issues on hand. Ideally, you should ask them to ask forgiveness from you and then forgive them. If they make excuses and justify their side, you should still be ready to forgive them from the heart and release them from your anger or hatred. Ask God for the grace to forgive from the heart.
  3. Look also at your life and see if you have hurt or offended anyone and ask forgiveness from those you have hurt. Do not justify or make excuses ask forgiveness to them. Accept responsibility and be humble. A true apology does not make excuses. Offer and make restitution if needed to reconcile fully with them.
  4. Deal with the issues directly. Do not share to lots of people who can do nothing about it. The symptoms of anger and being hurt will go away slowly once the issues have been resolved.
  5. Small hurts can build up and can explode one day. Try to deal with and diffuse those small hurts, so they do not build up. Practice forgiving and asking for forgiveness daily, especially with those close to you.
  6. Forgiveness has the power to heal, but it may take time for the healing to complete. It is like a wound that needs time to mend. Forgiveness and healing can be a process. Be willing to last it out.
  7. Talk with a trusted person if you need help and guidance in dealing with forgiveness.
Other Scripture passages:
  1. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. [1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV]
  2. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. [Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV]
  3. Other references: Matthew 6:14-15; Ephesians 4:26; 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16.
For personal reflection or group sharing
  1. How easy is it for you to forgive and ask for forgiveness? Are you convinced of its importance?
  2. Are you living a spiritually debt-free life? If not, what do you need to do about it?
Tom Caballes is the National Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university aged people. 

Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters live in Wellington, New Zealand.

Top photo by (c) nickp37 at

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