Why should you forgive? Simply because God forgave us. The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:13: to forgive whatever grievances we my have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Matthew 6:14-16 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But is you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Mark 11:25 Amplified And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go) in order that you Father Who is in heaven may forgive you your (own) failings and shortcomings and let them drop.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far he removed our transgressions from us.
A few common medical benefits to forgiveness:
Increased life satisfaction and happiness
Reduced stress on your body
Better heart health
It’s not always easy, but we are commanded to forgive. I remember a time that someone very dear to me hurt me deeply. Initially I was shocked because what the person did was totally out of line of their character. As I continued to replay the offense in my mind, the shock turned to hurt. The hurt turned to anger and the anger morphed into a deadly silence! Now, with my personality, contemplative silence is not a good thing. I am typically an upbeat, happy-go-lucky kind of person. So it really takes a lot to upset me and when I am, I’m pretty much parked there for a while. When it truly dawned on me that I was taken for granted, lied to, and disrespected I wanted to get even.
Yep! You read it correctly- I am saved and Spirit-filled but I wanted to get even! God loved me so much that He sent me correction through a televised sermon of a well-known pastor. I was so moved that I just sat and cried as I watched the telecast. The same sermon aired three times that day and each time I prayed the prayer of forgiveness. I had to take it a step further as he suggested to practice forgiving the person. I wrote several versions of what I wanted to say and the key was to not mention how I felt I was wronged nor give a detailed account on what the person did so they would not be remorseful, etc. I practiced until I finally got the courage to speak with the person.
Just imagine, I’ve done all this rehearsing, now I’m looking for the opportune time to speak with the person without causing any more tension. A few days later, I finally got the opportunity to have a conversation. We began small talk and I finally felt comfortable enough to begin my apology for having an ungodly attitude and treating them unfairly. And guess what? As I began my perfect apology, the person begins to interrupt me stating that they weren’t aware of my behavior and the apology wasn’t necessary. What the heck! Can you imagine how I felt? I wanted to obey God and get this offense removed and all I got was a blink, a blank stare and then total dismissal!
But in the end, when all was said and done, I did exactly what God told me to – regardless of the person’s acceptance of the apology.
What I learned is that we forget that hurting people in fact hurt people. Hurt people (you and I included) have experienced a pain, void, or loss in their life and project that experience or behavior towards others. You cannot demand payment from a person who has an empty or overdrawn account. They don’t bear the responsibility to give us the 100% fulfillment that we can only get from the Lord. Forgive, tell God about it and ask Him to make it right, even if they never do. Vengeance belongs to God. He will repay but you must walk in love and be determined to keep loving like you’ve never been hurt. Never allow your circumstances enslave you or label you a victim. Learn the lessons and live victoriously!
Okay, so all of this sounds great. Now how do you put it into practical day-to-day use? Ask the Holy Spirit to identify people in your life that you’ve struggled to love and list them.
Repent- that is change your mind on how you see the offense. Remember Christ’s finished work at the Cross and receive the forgiveness which has already been granted to unto you for all of your sins. This includes your current sin being offended and acting in an unloving way towards others. Make a commitment to be more loving from this day forward. Forgive yourself! Ask the Lord if you are to arrange for a face-to-face encounter to ask the person for their forgiveness. If so, then practice what you will say or write it down and have others that you are accountable to pray for you as well. The goal here is to release the offense. If the person does not receive the apology or resists your efforts, it’s okay. You have honored God by your willingness to reconcile.
If the person is no longer living, thank God for His forgiveness and if necessary ask your pastor, prayer partner, or accountability partner to stand in proxy for this person and release the offense.
Remember that hurting people hurt themselves and others, so continue to pray for healing and reconciliation for those that you have caused pain or those who have done so in your life. Ask the Lord to reveal the root of the issue so that you can dissolve it in prayer and get help (counseling, support, accountability) so that it will not return.
Prayer for Today:
Father, thank you for Your unconditional love. I confess that at times I have sought love from others that can only be given by you. By your grace I choose to forgive others that have hurt me. I choose to forgive ______________________ (insert name). I release him/her and choose to bless them this day. By the Blood of Jesus, erase the hurt, shame, guilt associated with this offense. I forgive myself. From this day forward I declare I am free from bondage of fear, unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness. Father by your grace I choose to walk in unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today’s post is an excerpt from my forthcoming devotional
“Hope Coaching” and in loving memory of my Aunt Sarah who passed a few days ago. She literally used the last days of her life reconnecting family members that hadn’t spoken or seen each other in years.
Is there anyone in your family, an old colleague or friend that the Lord is leading you to reconnect with or forgive? Have you ever done anything hurtful towards another person and you’ve yet to make amends with them or still live under the guilt of what happened? Are you willing to make amends and forgive yourself? Please comment and share your thoughts.