By Tian Jing, China
When others do some things that harm us, we find it hard to forgive them, and even continue to resent them. I was once like this. I could never be forgiving with my own efforts, but in the end the Lord’s words helped me make it.
Molly and I work as teachers in the same school, and ordinarily we get along pretty well. Some time ago, the principal assigned me to direct the work in a sub-campus. Molly also came to encourage me after she learned about it, and I was very moved.
Before long, I was transferred back to the former school for some reason and worked with Molly again. As time went on, the conflicts between us began to emerge. One day, I was dining out with the principal and colleagues. As we chatted, Molly mentioned several unpleasant matters between her and me and she even wept. Seeing her look so wronged, the principal criticized me in front of my colleagues. Seeing the peculiar looks in my colleagues’ eyes, and then looking at Molly, I felt really ashamed and got very angry with her. I thought, “Are those matters worth a mention? Besides, you were also wrong. Why do you not talk about your own faults? Now you speak this way; then, in the eyes of the principal and colleagues, it is all my fault. What will they think of me?” At this thought, I wanted to embarrass Molly by speaking out her faults before the principal and colleagues. Molly was still weeping, however, and so I thought: “If I speak them out, the principal and other colleagues will surely say that I am aggressive, bullying a person younger than me.” Therefore, I suppressed my anger and held grievances back in my heart.
From then on, every time I thought of how Molly caused me to be criticized by the principal, it made me feel so furious. Afterward, I began to avoid her in order not to see her any more, for an anger would well up inside me at the sight of her.
Knowing that I was vexed with her due to that incident, Molly took the initiative and spoke with me. At that time, I really didn’t want to talk to her, but when I thought about how I’m a Christian and I shouldn’t render evil for evil, which is not in accordance with the Lord’s teachings, I talked to her. Though on the surface I did so, I still couldn’t forgive her in my heart.
Later, I thought of the Lord Jesus’ words, “And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25–26).
These words are very clear: If we want the heavenly Father to forgive our transgressions, first we have to forgive others. This is what the Lord requires of us. If we fail to do that, then the heavenly Father won’t forgive us. But now, the Lord’s requirement was difficult for me to meet. I tried to forgive Molly, but whenever I thought of how she had me criticized by the principal, my temper would flare up, and this distressed me a great deal.
Therefore, I came before the Lord and prayed, “Lord, I know forgiving those who offend me is Your requirement of me, and I want to carry out Your words, but I find it hard to do. As soon as I think of all that Molly has done to me, I feel irritation and can’t let go of my resentment for her. I’m feeling very frustrated. I don’t want to live in resentment, and I ask You to guide me out of it so that I no longer hate her.”
After that, I remembered these words from the Lord Jesus, “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). The Lord warned us not to always be looking at the shortcomings and deficiencies of others, but to examine our own problems first, and yet I always fixated on the faults of others, and I could show them no tolerance or patience, and even hold on to grudges. How could this be in accord with the Lord’s teachings? I fixated only on Molly; did I not have any faults? I thought of how I had never forgiven Molly: Wasn’t it because she said something bad about me in front of the principal and colleagues and caused me to be criticized and lose face, and thus I harbored resentment against her? Moreover, this incident was a thing of the past and Molly also realized how wrong she had been and even proactively talked to me, and yet I had always been entwined in rights and wrongs and intentionally gave her the cold shoulder, unwilling to forgive her. Wasn’t everything I did evil? It was too detestable to the Lord. Coming to this realization, I saw how ugly my heart was and how narrow-minded I was.
The Lord Jesus said, “And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:4). The Lord’s words are crystal clear. I should treat others in accordance with the Lord’s requirements. Since Molly had felt remorse, I should let go of this incident. If I couldn’t forgive her from my heart, this could only show that I was too narrow-minded and haggled over every little thing, and that I failed to practice the Lord’s words and wasn’t worthy of being called a Christian.
After understanding all of this my heart felt much brighter, and before I knew it I let go of the hatred toward Molly and was able to forgive her from my heart. Afterward, I took the initiative and openly told her about my experiences over those past few days. After the talk, I felt a great deal of relaxation and release, and we could get along with each other again. Thank the Lord! It was the Lord’s words that allowed me to learn forgiveness.