When we get hurt, the intensity of the hurt really depends on how we judge the offense. More often than not, we judge the offense with our ego.
The question we thus should ask is, what really got hurt? Was it our sense of dignity? Our opinion of certain issues? Our looks? Our associations? Our idols?
Then we need to examine the degree of our like or dislike of the person who caused the hurt. If we do not know the person too well, the degree of the hurt is much more than if we knew the person better. For example, we find it easier to forgive a sibling or parent than someone outside of the family. This is because our ego is less likely to assert itself when the hurt involves our loved ones.
Thus, oftentimes it is the ego that deals with the hurt. It can tell us to not forgive. It can tell us to forgive and then have nothing to do anymore with the person who hurt us. It can tell us to forgive but harbor murderous thoughts. It can tell us to forgive but not forget.
In other words, the ego has its own definition of forgiveness. And we go by it.
But what does God’s word say?
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” -Luke 17:3-4
Jesus wasn’t referring to quantity, but the quality of forgiveness. The relationship is still there. There is no walking away. There is still the effort to build up the relationship.
True forgiveness doesn’t say, “I forgive you. Goodbye!” True forgiveness says, “I forgive you. Allow me to minister to you because I know you’re hurting too and that might be the cause of why you hurt me.”
It is true love –what is known in Greek as agape—in action.
Forgiveness should not be based on ego. It should be based on Christ in us. It should produce the hope that the hurt will be soothed, that reconciliation will take place and that the love of God will prevail so that his goodness will ultimately be the outcome.
And his glory be revealed.