“If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;”
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things for a person to do in their own power because it is not in the human nature to forgive. The normal reaction for a sinful nature is to retaliate and hurt, but that is not what the believer is supposed to do. Paul addressed Philemon about this very important topic because he knew that if Philemon would forgive Onesimus that it would be a benefit to all.
You may have been hurt deeply, but no matter what you have faced, God gives you the wherewithal to forgive. Nobody has been wronged more deeply than Christ, yet He showed the believer that no matter how egregious the wrong may be that you can still forgive. The Book of Philemon shows several reasons that will help you to forgive.
First, you need to forgive for love’s sake. Paul said in verse 9, “Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee…” The act of God’s love to save your soul from Hell should be one of the greatest motivators for you to find a way to forgive others. According to Proverbs 10:12, “…love covereth all sins.” The only reason you can’t find it within yourself to forgive someone is because of your lack of God’s love in your life. Love always finds a way to forgive.
Second, forgive so others can be helped. Your ability to forgive always helps others to be able to go further in life. Onesimus needed forgiveness so that he could be used to help others. Your inability to forgive always hurts the ability of others to be what God wants them to be.
Third, realize that they may have grown. Paul told Philemon that maybe Onesimus “departed for a season.” He was saying that Onesimus had grown while he was away. You can’t hold others to what they were in the past because they may have grown since then. Forgiveness realizes that people grow, and that they may likely have learned a valuable lesson from their wrong.
Fourth, remember that you have been forgiven. Paul reminded Philemon how much he was indebted to him. Likewise, when you remember how much you have been forgiven, you can find it much easier to forgive others. If you are struggling with forgiving, you ought to look at how many times you have been forgiven when you wronged others to get the strength to forgive.
Fifth, forgive because it is the right thing to do. According to verse 21, forgiving people is an act of obedience. If you want to obey the LORD, you will forgive those who have wronged you. Your desire to please the LORD and obey Him is revealed by the degree to which you are willing to forgive others.
Sixth, realize that your ability to forgive helps others. You will find that when you forgive others that it will be refreshing for others to see. My friend, you can be a blessing to many around you if you learn to forgive the ones who have wronged you.
Let me close by saying that I am not saying that you haven’t been wronged, but I am saying that the Scriptures teach that you can forgive. The only one who is held hostage by your lack of forgiveness is you. If you want to enjoy the Christian walk to its fullest, you are going to have to learn to forgive those who have wronged you.