Devotions from James Smith book, Embracing the Love of God

The two most difficult people to forgive are those whom we can’t forgive because they are no longer with us and those who don’t care whether we forgive them or not.  We can still obtain complete forgiveness even if the person is no longer alive.  Forgiving those who do not want our forgiveness is hard because something inside of us wants them to desire our forgiveness. We’d rather they receive our forgiveness with gratitude.  We must remember it is not our offenders’ desire to be forgiven that prompts us to forgive, but it is our desire to be free. Their attitude should not dictate our behavior.
It is not always wise to have a face to face meeting with one who has harmed us as sometimes they may react negatively. But often it is the best course of action to meet with them when the person has asked for forgiveness or when we really feel the Lord prompting us to do so.  We can ask the Lord for guidance and discern when it would help.
Often forgiving others takes time. One indication that we have forgiven is when the old angry feelings surrounding the event have dissipated. Another indication is we actually find ourselves wishing the person well.  When we are immersed in God’s love and acceptance and forgiveness, we are drawn to forgive the sins of people around us. We lose our desire for revenge and find ourselves showing mercy. “Forgiveness is a gift God has given us to wipe away the sins of others, not only for their sakes but for our benefit as well. Forgiving one another sets us free form the stifling grip of an unforgiving spirit. The prisoners walk free, the evil is transformed into good, the pain stops, and life is ours to enjoy again.”