We all have people in our lives who have hurt us, whether it’s a parent, a spouse, a friend, whomever. That means we all have to learn how to forgive. We even have to learn how to forgive ourselves! Below I will walk through why we need to forgive, what forgiveness means, and how to accomplish true forgiveness.
Why Do We Forgive?
Why do we have to forgive people who hurt us? It’s simple. Because that’s what God asks us to do. He forgave us when we were undeserving of it, and He asks us to do the same to others.
Not forgiving someone actually harms us a lot more than the other person, but we’ll talk more about that later.
When we forgive we are releasing the grace of God to the undeserving. We are being the hands and feet of Jesus because that is exactly what Jesus did for us.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”Matthew 6:14
What Forgiveness Means
Before we can accomplish true forgiveness, we have to define what forgiveness means.
Let’s start by defining what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness does not mean you are approving the offense or excusing the action. It does not mean you have to ignore the pain someone caused you or ignore their behavior.
Forgiveness is not conditional upon an apology. You do not need someone to apologize to you for you to forgive them.
We do not forgive based upon emotions or feelings.
Forgiveness does not mean we forget what was done to us, but we can no longer hold it against them in our hearts.
For example, when I tell my husband I forgive him for something he said to me, the next time we are in an argument I do not have the right to remind him of previous wrongs he’s done to me that I have already forgiven.
To further that point, forgiveness also doesn’t mean we have to resume trusting the person who wronged us. Trust is built. If a friend did something to break my trust, I am called to forgive them. I do not have to fully give them my trust back right away.
Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation. Reconciliation takes TWO people.
With all that said, forgiveness is simply choosing to say what Jesus said to us.
Your debt is canceled and I will no longer hold what you’ve done to me against you.
Forgiveness equals freedom!
Why It’s Hard To Forgive
When we are unwilling to forgive it often stems from pride. We do not want to “lose control” by forgiving the other person. The crazy thing is that holding onto unforgiveness (knowingly or unknowingly) can cripple us. It creates bitterness and it gives the enemy a foothold, an entrance into our life. It becomes an area we hold back from God, which in turn breaks our intimacy with Him.
We forgive so the pain of what happened does not rule over us.
We forgive so we can be set free.
Forgiveness is often not for others but for ourselves.
How To Accomplish True Forgiveness
The moment you have all been waiting for… How do we accomplish true forgiveness? Honestly, I don’t have any special secret. We forgive by casting our burdens upon Jesus and letting him take them from us. We don’t have to carry the sins of others. Our job is not to pronounce judgement upon others. That is God’s job.
The first step is to watch our reaction when others wrong us. Don’t fall into the victim mentality. Don’t allow our anger to get away from us. It’s okay to be upset when people hurt us, but beyond that we have a decision to make. Will we allow this hurt to penetrate our lives? Will we allow it to ruin our day or our relationship? Or will we offer forgiveness and grace.
Here are a few “simple” steps to forgiveness:
- Choose to receive God’s forgiveness!
- Remember God’s forgiveness.
- Choose to forgive.
- Consider and thank God for the blessings you have received from your interactions with the person who hurt you.
- Consider the offender. Pray for them. Ask God to bless them.
God calls us ALL to forgive. So whatever person you have had in your mind while reading this, make it a point to forgive them and pray for them. Whether that means in person or in your heart, that is up to you to discern and decide. Just follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and embrace the freedom that Jesus died to give to us!
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