In pastoral ministry, we are regularly faced with people who want to control us, use us for their personal agendas, manipulate us, or get rid of us. There will also be those who betray us. Sometimes the betrayal is open and public. Sometimes the betrayal is a deafening silence when we are being attacked by others. You can’t serve long in ministry without encountering your personal Judas.
How do I handle these spiritual attacks? One of the most difficult steps in pastoral life is the step of forgiveness. It is one of the most difficult but it is also one of the most essential steps in my walk with Christ.
As a pastor, I cannot progress towards the freedom and maturity God intends if I am unwilling to forgive.
I must forgive those who have hurt me, wronged me, betrayed me or offended me. In our text, we are commanded to forgive others in the same way that God has forgiven us. This means that I am to forgive that person who hurt me, wronged me or offended me in the same way that Christ forgave me for all that I have done. How did Christ forgive me? Completely, graciously, and mercifully.
Forgiving Those Who Hurt, Wronged or Offended Me
There are several reasons why I should forgive those who have hurt, wronged or offended me.
1. I should forgive others because God has forgiven me.
Colossians 3:13 – “Bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
When I think of how much God has forgiven me, it makes it easier to forgive others. You will never have to forgive anyone else more than God has already forgiven you.
2. I should forgive others because resentment does not work.
Job 5:2 (GNT) – “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish and senseless thing to do.”
Job 18:4 (GNT) – “You are only hurting yourself with your anger.”
Job 21:23-25 (GNT) – “Some men stay healthy till the day they die….Others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts.”
Resentment is unreasonable, unhelpful and unhealthy. Hanging on to resentment only allows that person to have control over you. Research has proven that resentment is the most unhealthy emotion. It will drain you of energy, devastate your spiritual life, and harm you physically.
3. I should forgive others because I will need forgiveness in the future.
Mark 11:25 – “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask God to treat our sins as we treat the sins of others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Resentment will block your ability to sense God’s forgiveness in your life. The Bible indicates that you cannot receive what you are unwilling to give.
4. I should forgive other because not to do so will grieve the Holy Spirit and hinder God’s work in my life.
Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
If you continue reading the verses you will find that it is “anger, wrath, clamor and evil speaking” that grieve the Holy Spirit. All these sinful attitudes are evidence that we have not forgiven those who hurt, mistreated or wronged us.
Some important considerations about forgiveness:
First, forgiveness is an act of obedience to God. He commands us to forgive others.
Second, forgiveness is primarily an act of the will. It is a decision we make and not an emotion we feel. We choose to forgive because we know it is what God requires.
Third, forgiveness is not saying that what the other person did was right or acceptable. It is saying that I refuse to let the hurt, betrayal, or wrong behavior of others control me.
Fourth, forgiveness is placing yourself in the position to receive God’s grace. It is caring for your soul and expanding your capacity for ministry.
Pastor, you are not alone. We offer a safe place to navigate through the challenges of pastoral ministry. Reach out to us at careforpastors.org