“A sister in my congregation wrongly accused me of stealing money from her. Others in the congregation learned of it and began to take sides. Eventually, the sister told me that she had received some new information that exonerated me. Although she apologized, I felt in my heart that I could never forgive her for what I had gone through.”—Linda.
CAN you relate to Linda, who was deeply hurt by the actions of a fellow believer? Sadly, some have been so disturbed by the conduct of others that it has affected their spiritual routine. Has that been true in your case?
Can Anyone “Separate Us From God’s Love”?
Admittedly, we may find it very difficult to forgive a fellow believer who has hurt us. After all, Christians should love one another. (John 13:34, 35) If we have been wronged by a fellow believer, the disappointment and pain can be devastating.—Psalm 55:12.
Of course, the Bible acknowledges that there are times when Christians give one another “cause for complaint.” (Colossians 3:13) Even so, when that happens to us personally, we may find it to be quite a challenge to deal with. Is there anything that can help us? Consider three Scriptural principles:
Our heavenly Father is aware of everything. Jehovah observes all that happens, including any injustice we face and the suffering it causes. (Hebrews 4:13) Moreover, Jehovah feels for us when we suffer. (Isaiah 63:9) He never allows “tribulation or distress” or anything else—not even another servant of his—“to separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:35, 38, 39) Are we not moved to respond in like manner, not allowing anything or anyone to come between us and Jehovah?
To forgive is not to condone. When we forgive those who have wronged us, we are not minimizing, justifying, excusing, or condoning their actions. Remember, Jehovah never approves of sin, but he does forgive it if there is a basis for doing so. (Psalm 103:12, 13; Habakkuk 1:13) When he encourages us to forgive others, Jehovah is asking us to imitate him. He does not “stay resentful forever.”—Psalm 103:9; Matthew 6:14.
When we let go of resentment, we benefit ourselves. In what way? Imagine the following scenario. You pick up a rock, perhaps one that weighs just a few pounds, and hold it at arm’s length. You would probably have little trouble holding the rock for a short time. But what if you tried to do so for an extended period of time? How long would you be able to hold it—some minutes? an hour? or longer? No doubt, your arm would become very tired! Of course, the actual weight of the rock would not change. But the longer you held it, the heavier it would feel. The same is true of resentment. The longer we hold a grudge—even a rather small one—the more we hurt ourselves. Little wonder, then, that Jehovah encourages us to let go of resentment. Really, letting go is for our own good.—Proverbs 11:17.
“I Felt as if Jehovah Himself Was Talking to Me”
What helped Linda not to harbor resentment over the way she had been treated by a fellow believer? Among other things, she meditated on Scriptural reasons to extend forgiveness. (Psalm 130:3, 4) Linda was especially moved by knowing that when we extend forgiveness, Jehovah will, in turn, be forgiving toward us. (Ephesians 4:32–5:2) Regarding how those sentiments affected her, she says: “I felt as if Jehovah himself was talking to me.”
In time, Linda was able to let go of resentment. She freely forgave the sister, and now that sister is her dear friend. Linda has moved forward in her service to Jehovah. Be assured that Jehovah wants to help you do the same.