Forgiveness: We Must Forgive! But How?
September 1, 2018 | View PDF
Jesus talked a lot about forgiveness!
As I mentioned last month in the Alabama Gazette, forgiveness isn't
If you know anything about Jesus' teachings, you will know that he ties our forgiveness to how we forgive others.
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, "forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Heavenly Father will not forgive your sins." - Jesus, Matthew 6:14-15
So, Jesus says forgiveness isn't optional. We must forgive! Last month, I talked about why we must forgive in the August edition of Soul Searching. But today I want to talk about ....
How to forgive?
First, Recognize that no one is perfect!
"Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins." - Solomon, Ecclesiastes 7:20
"For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard."
- Paul, Romans 3:23
It's very natural to harbor unforgiveness towards those who have wronged or hurt us. But when we hate another person or carry bitterness, resentment and anger towards someone, we tend to lose our perspective. We can then easily dehumanize the other person. When we dehumanize someone, we are unable to see them through the eyes of Jesus... the way he sees them. We must surrender our opinions to the opinion of Christ. We need to ask God by his grace to help us see them as an imperfect sinner that Jesus loved so much that he died for them on a cross in order that they might be forgiven of their sins! We must remember that we too are also sinners saved by God's grace!
Second, Relinquish your right to get even!
This is the heart for forgiveness!
"Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God." - Paul, Romans 12:19
You may deserve to retaliate. They may be totally at fault. You may be right, and they may be wrong. But you must commit to not get even!
You may say, "that does not seem fair!" It may not be fair! But who sold you the lie that life should be fair? It may not be fair, but it is the right and healthy things to do!
And the Bible tells us over and over not to get even. "Bless those who curse you."..." forgive those who sin against you"... "Vengeance is mine saith the Lord."
This is not a one time decision by the way. It will often be a day by day decision. Sometimes moment by moment. But keep reminding yourself to relinquish your right to get even.
Third, respond to evil with good!
"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with good...." - Peter, 1 Peter 3:9
How do you know you have fully released someone who has wronged you? You can repay evil with good. Humanly speaking, this is almost impossible. But all things are possible with God's help and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to help you with this. You may have to ask the Lord 100 times a day to help you. But when you can respond kindly and lovingly to someone who has done evil or wrong against you, you know you are making progress in the journey of forgiveness!
Forth, refocus on God's plan for you!
When you continue to focus on the person that hurt you, you give them control over you. You must forgive them so you can move on with your life! God does have a great plan for your life. The scriptures are full of constant reminders of this fact.
"I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good not for evil, plans to give you a hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
"You are his masterpiece, created for good works prepared in advance for you to do." - Paul, Ephesians 2:10
The most important thing to remember about forgiveness is that you will need God's help, and it is a daily decision! Remember these four things about how to forgive and pray them over and over again! And you will find that by God's grace you can experience the power of forgiveness!