People who live life on a rather feelings basis, often have a very hard time with forgiveness. Someone wrongs them - could be a little or big thing. They smart and fuss and get upset....and because they are used to living a lot by how they feel, they either don't forgive (just try to forget it) or live in some form of alienation and broken relationship. Families are shredded over this. Churches divided.
The way of Jesus is amazingly different. It takes only one person to forgive another....it is a unilateral act not a bilateral one (bilateralism has to do with a step after forgiveness, reconciliation.)
Jesus not only taught a lot about this suject, but on the cross gave the most profound model of forgiveness ever: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
The people "doing" it were standing there, still doing it. There was no remorse, only spitting and taunts. Little did they know that their action towards Him and His to them would still be the model of this grace-filled dynamic 2000 years later. By this act of Christ, grace not vengeance was placed in motion and their lives were changed. And Jesus went into "paradise" whole and pure.
Peter was standing there that day and was a candidate for Jesus forgiveness, for he had repeatedly denied being his follower with an oath, with cursing and swearing. He knew the transforming power of forgiveness both from the cross and later with a resurrected Christ. And his letter (I Peter) is filled with this dynamic...be sure to read it if this blog is just too short.
We simply choose to forgive...expressing in some form to the other person that we do so and want them to know it. In this, we encourage the action of God's Spirit in both of our lives, we get a better night's rest and provide a great model to those around us. And we frustrate the plans of the enemy to take us out of action.
Louis Smeedes, who has written a lot about forgiveness said this: "To forgive is to set the prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you."