Jesus doesn’t mince words when He instructs us to forgive: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Forgiveness is a priority in our life with God. It’s a commandment that we are to follow. And my guess is that you know in your heart that you’re supposed to forgive those who have hurt you . . . and maybe you really want to forgive. But for some reason the hurt continues to resurface and you just can’t seem to shake the resentment, the bitterness, and the negative feelings you have toward some people.
Here is what I found to be true: we are told to forgive. And we actually want to do it. But few people really know HOW to forgive. And therein lies the problem. At least part of it. Another big issue around forgiveness is that you may not know what forgiveness is and what it isn’t!
So in the next few paragraphs I want to cover some of the discoveries I’ve made in my own life so that I can honestly say that I know how to forgive and practice the commandment readily. Yes, stingy memories may arise, but now I know what to do to move feelings and emotions into their proper place.
First, let me share a tenet that I hold to be true: Not everything is acceptable, but everything is forgivable. Let’s unfold that belief so I can explain what I mean.
Acceptable behavior has boundaries. The Scriptures are clear about what is okay and what isn’t. The Ten Commandments serve as a foundation. And then throughout the Bible we find teachings from the Lord that define the acceptable ways we are to live our lives and behave.
Jesus said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:9-10
Abusing others is outside of the commandments. As are stealing, lying, adultery and the list goes on. None of the actions that don’t align with the ways of God are acceptable or considered good. They are sins against God and often sins that hurt others.
When you forgive someone, you are NOT agreeing with their behavior. Their actions are not acceptable. So be clear. When you forgive you are not accepting the pain they caused you or the abuse you received or the way the person behaved.
What you are doing when you forgive is releasing the resentment, bitterness, and feelings of revenge that you may be harboring in your soul toward that person. You are releasing the individual of your hostility toward them. And you’re moving to hoping that the person draws nearer to God and is blessed.
What? We are to want the person to be blessed by God?
Yes. And again, not for what they have done that is wrong. But instead, that they move toward God and into repentance, renewal, and total forgiveness.
It took me years to understand how to forgive others. I read multiple books on the subject. I listened to teachings. And I wrote to Bible teachers and pastors who taught about forgiveness. They still missed the part about “how to forgive.” They taught about what forgiveness was, but didn’t show me the actions so I could experience it.
Finally, in an unexpected way, I found a path I could follow. And ever since that time I have been able to forgive easily. I’m not saying that it’s immediate. There are times when I need to sort out some feelings and get some things in order in my mind. But the whole time I know where I am headed. I am on my way to forgiving.
And so I spend time with the Lord and go through a process of forgiving the person who has hurt me or offended me. I release them from any angst I have toward them. And I give the whole matter to the Lord and leave any responses up to Him. He says in Deuteronomy 32:35, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.”
Our Lord wants us to forgive and then walk away. He wants us to be free of the negative emotions that hide in our hearts when we don’t forgive. And He also wants us to release the offender from our animosity. He wants us to be a reflection of God’s love and to live in the way of our faith.
Again, hear the words of Jesus, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Harboring malice against another is a sin. We are called to forgive. It’s a gift you give to yourself and an act of obedience you give to your Father.
If you want to learn more about forgiveness and the experience I’ve discovered, CLICK HERE.
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