«Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you» (Ephesians 4:32).
YOU. That is the clear and blunt answer to the question that is today’s title. Yes, forgiveness benefits the offender, but above all, it frees you. Therefore, even though it may be for selfish reasons, it is worth putting it into practice.
Forgiving is a decision that is entirely up to you and does not depend on the repentance of the other person. Of course, the most complete experience of forgiveness is when there is a reconciliation afterward, but you and I know that this is not always possible. Matters of two depend on two, not on one; however, «if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12:18, 19, NIV). Leave the matter in the Lord’s hands and live quietly.
Perhaps after all that we have said yesterday and today about forgiveness, you are wondering what, exactly, it means to forgive. This is the best definition I have heard: forgiving is 1) recognizing that someone has hurt us, 2) putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes to try to understand the reason for the offense that we have received from them, 3) managing our emotions in such a way that they do not lead us to an answer that does harm (to us, to the other person, or to others), 4) speaking with the person in order to try to clear up the situation, and 5) leaving in God’s bands both the pain and the relationship.
Is reconciliation possible? Yes, if and when the other people recognize their mistake, sincerely ask for pardon, and change their attitude toward you. However, is reconciliation necessary to have forgiveness? No. All that is necessary is your will to forgive and to banish resentment completely from your heart. It is a step of faith.
I once read that holding a grudge is like drinking poison yourself and expecting the other person to die. Of course, that is ridiculous. Resentment poisons you, so that you become a victim for a second time. Far from being poison, forgiveness is medicine, «for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you» (Matthew 6:14).