It is impossible to go through life without being hurt and offended. In fact, you will be hurt by others so many more times than you will be able to count. 

Whether it’s a family member, a friend, someone you don’t know or someone who can’t stand you, you are definitely going to get your feelings hurt as you walk through life. 

Maybe the offense will come in the form of hurtful words … or words that were left unsaid. 
Maybe the offense will be actions that deeply hurt you … or actions that were left undone. 
Maybe someone intentionally hurt you … or it happened by sheer accident. 
On and on we could go with the endless possibilities of how folks will offend you.

This problem is compounded when we reflect upon what it taking place in our society. Not too many years ago, society believed that you had no right to intentionally offend someone. Now, we believe you have no right to be offended. What’s the difference? Simply put, more people have a ‘chip on their shoulder’ these days and are unwilling to forgive someone when they knock that chip off.

So, the issue is not whether you will have hurtful things happen to you. The issue is how you will handle those hurtful things. Will you hold onto them or will you let them go?

When you think about it, it is insane to hold onto grudges as you refuse to forgive. That mindset sounds like this: “Since you hurt me, I will continue to hurt myself for a very long time. I will dwell on your offense until it adversely affects my relationships, until it affects my outlook on life … hey, I may even hold onto it long enough that it gives me high blood pressure and a heart attack! I’ll get you back by hurting me!”

For the follower of Jesus, holding onto hurts is not an option. Forgiveness is always our response. To refuse to forgive is sin.

In my Bible reading this morning, I was brought into the events of Jesus’ last night with this disciples before He was led to His crucifixion. Listen to a conversation Jesus had with Peter, a man He had mentored for 3 full years:

Mark 14:26-31 (New Living Translation)
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away, for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.’ 
Peter said to him, ‘Even though they all fall away, I will not.’ 
And Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ 
But he said emphatically, ‘If I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And they all said the same.”

Did you get that? On the way to the Mount of Olives (the Garden of Gethsemane is there) where Jesus would be betrayed within a few hours, He tried to comfort His disciples. He told them they would abandon Him when it got tough but He would meet them in Galilee after it was over (as if to say that He would overlook the offense).

What did Peter do as Jesus was overwhelmed with grief? (After all, the Cross was less than 24 hours away.) Jesus could have used encouragement and affirmation in that moment but that’s not what He got. Peter rebuked Jesus publicly and told Him that He didn’t know what He was talking about. If you re-read Peter’s last statement above, He essentially calls Jesus a liar. 

This is what Peter was saying: “Jesus, you say that I will deny you. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You aren’t speaking the truth about me. I will never deny You no matter what you say about me!”

As that evening played out, Judas betrayed Jesus and He watched as they all ran away like cowards (if I had been in their shoes, I suspect I would have done the same thing). They abandoned Him. Their words and their actions were so hurtful that if Jesus had outright rejected them forever, we would not have blamed Him.

Yet, He DID forgive them … completely! If you want to see how beautifully Jesus forgave these men and welcomed them back into His heart, just read John 21. There is no doubt whatsoever that as badly as those guys hurt Jesus, He loved them and refused to hold anything against them.

This is the standard by which Jesus tells us forgive others 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:21-22). And by the way, it is noteworthy that Peter was the one who asked the question about how many times we are to forgive those who have hurt us. He would reap the rewards of Jesus’ incredible answer.

Today, refuse to hold grudges. Forgive. And keep forgiving. Give others the forgiveness that God has given to you.