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Someone Like You … might need to forgive

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“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
- Matthew 6:14-15

Life can become a series of things other people have done that hurt us. We can hold onto them and carry them, rehashing each one. And we can spend the bulk of our days trying to walk through the days with the heavy baggage of bitterness.

For a season, Andi held on to the hurt her parents had caused her, the lie they had told and the truth they had withheld from her life. But after many weeks of that, what Dawson told Andi was true. Her parents had made a big mistake, but she was the only one who could fix it.

She was the only one who could choose to forgive.

Decades ago, a friend of mine, a Christian woman, had a small condo that she and her husband rented out on a regular basis. They kept rent low and fair and did all they could to give their tenant a great experience.

Then hard times hit.

My friend’s husband lost his job and they weren’t sure if they were going to make it one month to the next. When the year-long lease was up, my friend gave the tenant notice that – unfortunately - they needed to be out in thirty days per the contract. The reason? My friend and her husband could no longer afford the condo and would need to sell it.

When the tenant didn’t respond, my friend thought maybe the renters were on vacation or had simply overlooked the email. My friend tried again twice and then a third time. Finally, the tenant called and said basically, “You can’t make us move. In this state we can stay as long as we want. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

My friend was shocked. This wasn’t the type of business relationship they had shared with this tenant. Nothing about the situation was fair. It didn’t make sense. But one month became two, and two became three. Not only did the tenant refuse to move, but they also refused to pay. Not a dime.

A quick call with an attorney proved that the tenant was – technically – correct. The laws in that state drastically favored the tenant – even a tenant who no longer paid rent. As the weeks passed, my friend’s financial situation grew dire.

At the same time, her anger grew. She was furious about what was happening.


By now they should’ve sold the condo. The mortgage would be paid and they would have enough surplus to survive financially until my friend’s husband found a new job. Instead, they were using lines of credit to survive and close to having to declare bankruptcy.

The angrier my friend got, the worse she felt. She went through her days bitter and discouraged. Things that wouldn’t have bothered her before, became huge and she found herself fighting with her husband and various family members. She was unhappy morning to night, when finally, it hit her.

She could not change what the tenant was doing. Their wrong behavior might mean total financial collapse. She couldn’t change that either. But she could take the Bible’s instruction and choose to forgive.

My friend realized that she had been walking through life in complete and utter unforgiveness. She had valid reason, of course. But the Bible doesn’t say to forgive if the situation is understandable. It says, in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

That’s a very serious teaching, and a difficult one.

But it landed on my friend all in a single moment that afternoon. She felt the sting of tears, and she fell to her knees. There, she cried out to God. Her prayer was a simple one. “I’m sorry, Lord, for not obeying you in this matter. And here … now … I forgive this tenant. I let it go and I give the situation to You.”

For a day, the only change that happened was in the heart of my friend. She felt like herself again. She was happy and whole and she apologized to her husband and the family members she had been short with. Freedom ran through her veins and her heart felt like a mountain had been lifted from it.

The lesser miracle happened the next day.

She got word from a person in the neighboring condo that the tenant had moved. Not only that, but the tenant had left the place in pretty great shape. Just before having to declare bankruptcy, my friend and her husband sold the condo. Her husband found a better job and they were suddenly and completely on their feet again.

It was a lesson my friend never forgot, and I didn’t either. Forgiveness is a choice. Like Dawson told Andi, the problem may be caused by someone else. They may or may not be sorry about that problem.

But only you can forgive. Only I can forgive. It is a choice.


If we’re keeping score, by the time we’re in college we usually have a long list of wrongs done to us. Valid things. Painful things. And so it becomes our choice to forgive and always the people set free by forgiveness are you and me. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean a restored relationship. But when restoration is possible, the wins just add up.

Relationships thrive in the fertile soil of forgiveness!

For Discussion: 

  • Has someone hurt you? What happened?

  • Have you forgiven that person? Why or why not?

  • What would happen if you did forgive that person?

  • Is it possible – or right – that you might have a restored relationship with them?

  • How might you benefit if you forgive – even if you never speak to that person again?

I Can Do That:

  • Journal your thoughts on Jesus’ calling to forgive – even when it isn’t our fault, even when the other person isn’t sorry.

  • Make a list of the people who have wronged you and then – one at a time and using names – pray for these people and forgive them. Talk to God about this.

  • Take a walk and do an inventory of your life. Is there someone you have hurt or betrayed – even unintentionally? Consider contacting that person by letter or phone – if it is wise to do so – and apologizing.

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