A: Occasionally, I’ll meet someone or get a letter from someone like you, and it always makes me sad because I know they’re shutting their eyes to reality. The Bible warns that someday we will all die, and then “we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).
Right now you scoff at this, but have you ever asked yourself why? The reason, I suspect, is simply because you have wanted to live life on your own terms. You know that if you were to take God seriously, you couldn’t remain in control of your life any longer -- and you don’t want that to happen. Instead, you want to live by your own rules (or lack of rules), and so far you’ve been able to do it.
But let me ask you a question: Are you sure you’re right? I doubt it; otherwise you wouldn’t have written me. Please don’t misunderstand; I don’t say this to win an argument or put you down. I say it because I yearn for you to discover the greatest joy any person can ever experience -- the joy of knowing God, and knowing you will go to be with Him forever in heaven.
Don’t let your pride or anything else keep you from Jesus Christ. God loves you, no matter what your past has been and wants to welcome you into His family. God’s promise is for you: “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Q: I know Jesus said we’re supposed to forgive people who’ve hurt us, but why bother? As far as I can tell, it doesn’t really change them, nor does it make the hurts go away. — P.L.
A: Admittedly, forgiving someone who’s hurt us doesn’t always change them. Instead, they may laugh at us, or cynically accuse us of being insincere and only trying to manipulate them. They also may keep blaming us for what happened, just as they’ve always done. But occasionally it will change them — sometimes in surprising ways.
But let me tell you what will happen if you truly forgive someone who has hurt you. No, it may not change them, but it will change you. You see, an unforgiving spirit produces all kinds of negative emotions in us -- anger, bitterness, depression, jealousy, hate, and so forth. Any of those easily becomes a spiritual and emotional poison, eating away at our souls and turning us into unloving (and unlovable) people. This is why the Bible commands us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger” (Ephesians 4:31).
How can you forgive someone who has hurt you? You may think it’s impossible -- but with God’s help you can. The key is first to accept God’s forgiveness, by receiving the free gift of salvation He offers you in Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but on the cross all of our sins were placed in Christ, and He took the judgment we deserve. Have you turned to Him for the forgiveness you need?
Then forgive others the same way Christ has forgiven you — freely and fully. Not only will God release you from an unforgiving spirit, but He even may use you to change the life of the person you’ve forgiven.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.