How to Forgive
by Noah Hefley
August 29, 2020
I heard about a young girl who wrote this letter to God: “Dear God, We learned in Sunday School that we should love our enemies. I am only 6, and I do not have any enemies yet. But I hope to have some by the time I’m 7. Love, Jennifer
You don’t have to live very long before you have enemies. It’s then that you have to come to terms with the idea of forgiveness. As I said Sunday, this may be one of the hardest lessons we have to learn in the Christian life. But it is one we must learn. The clear teaching of Jesus is that He expects us to be as willing to forgive others as He is to forgive us.
Jesus said, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Forgiveness may not come easily, but it is necessary. Forgiveness involves a commitment. Usually we commit to the act of forgiveness before we feel very good about it. The fact of forgiveness comes, most assuredly, before the feelings of forgiveness. Feelings will come though as we work through an emotional process. Here are some tips on how to work through it—
- Face the pain of the injury honestly.
Don’t say, “This doesn’t hurt” if it really hurts. Be willing to say,“This person really hurt me by what they said or did.” Honesty is the best policy!
- Confess the resentment candidly.
Resentment is a normal feeling when we are hurt. God made us in such a way that we react with anger or resentment when we are hurt. It’s one of the ways we emotionally protect ourselves. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). If we continue to carry anger in our hearts then we need to forgive. But how do you detect if you are still resentful? Ask yourself this: Do I still want to get even? Do I still want to punish her/him personally? If you detect resentment, acknowledge it. Admit to God: “I am still angry but it is not my place to get even. I must leave that with you Lord.”
- Relinquish the consequences of forgiveness unconditionally.
Pray this: “Lord, I choose to forgive this person unconditionally. I relinquish the consequences to you.”
- Accept the notion that forgiveness is a process usually.
Forgiveness is an act of the will as we surrender to God’s will and feelings follow in their own time—but they will come. This is a process and we must acknowledge our humanity and humbly trust in God’s grace to bring about forgiveness of the heart completely. In the meantime, continue to choose to forgive.
Finally, for the Christian, forgiveness is not only possible—it is inevitable. You can count on it! Trust the Lord to give you this victory to His honor and glory!
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