Why Should I Forgive?

Learn how to change "Shame on you!" to "I forgive you!" Bible verses help us understand how and why it's so important to forgive rather than to hold a grudge.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Forgiveness, Jesus' Commandment - To Love as He Loved, Love

  • "Shame on you for forgetting to feed Fido!" 
  • "You mean you took my keys without asking?" 
  • "You watch out 'cause I won't forget this!"
  • "What you said is unforgivable!" 

Yes, we can feel bad - even guilty - when we do something that another finds so wrong that it seems life will never be the same. But wait a moment, didn't Alexander Pope say: "To err is human, to forgive, divine"? Doesn't it make more sense to go for the divine? That line is echoed in the Bible's book of Proverbs, but is best said in Christ Jesus' great prayer: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 5). A key word here is the little word "as." The word also means "in the manner" - in the way we forgive others. Do we do forgive grudgingly, only after coerced promises, and with little love? Then it follows that our own mistakes could be forgiven the same way. The Good News translation says: "Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us." The Complete Bible in Modern English by Ferrar Fenton elaborates: "forgive us our faults, as we forgive those offending us...For if you forgive men their faults, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours." OK, that's a good deal, but just how do we forgive an offence? And, since there are many forgivable offences each day - must you bring up all of them?

Start with these five points of forgiveness:

  1. Forgive with love.
  2. Forgive with patience.
  3. Forget about some infractions.
  4. Don't keep bringing up the fault again.
  5. Don't feel you have to settle them all.

If you don't keep mulling it over in your thinking, you will find that you soon forget it. Of course, after some mistakes, there may need to be correction, but you still go about these problems with some of the five points. This 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 process is one you can teach children, and if you do so, you'll find that they won't be bringing up one another's mistakes as often.

"I forgive you" is a fun activity for the family. Paul says in Colossians 3:13, "...as Christ forgave you, so do ye." In this game, we are taking Christ's standard of behavior. Post the family names across the top of a piece of paper. THEN, each time someone (including parents) uses the phrase, "I forgive you", the individual gets a star (or other symbol) under his or her name.

You will soon see the results and hear lines like:

  • "I forgive you for eating the last cupcake."
  • "I forgive you for giving me so much broccoli to eat."
  • "I forgive you for shouting at me."
  • "I forgive you for forgetting to take your lunch."
  • "I forgive you for choosing a rather stupid movie."
  • " I forgive you for forgetting how much I love you."

Try it and see how much more pleasant family life is when based on the ever-wise principles of the Bible.