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30 October, 2012

How Do We Forgive

It is hard to let go and forgive those who trespass against us but, it has to be done. The reason being is that when we do not forgive we are the one being imprisoned in our minds.  So by letting go of the pain and embrace forgiveness we find freedom to move forward and we can begin to heal. Forgiveness is not something that we are going to wake up one morning and find all is well, we no longer suffer the pain inflicted upon us. It is a process where we make up our mind to change our attitude toward the offender. Changing our mind does not mean we forget, it does not mean we have to let people walk all over us, nor that it means we have to be friend with the offender, even though Paul taught us in 2 Corinthians to go for reconciliation when it is possible.  But, if you keep feeling you have been wronged and you deserve to get vengeance then in essence what you are telling God is that you want Him to deal with you in the same way you are dealing with this person. As Christians, we are not allowed to cultivate pride, resentment, coldness anger in your heart. Christ can take away the hurt and the toxins and stress that come with cultivating a spirit of an unforgiving heart.  Nevertheless, a forgiving Spirit is a gift from God through His grace. As Christians we have been equipped by Him to exercise our will to forgive. Christ said so in Luke 17:4

Once you are ready to make the decision to move forward in forgiveness, understand that the process could take a while to get through. You have to change your perception of the situation, meaning stop focussing on the fact that you were wronged. Noticed that I did not say to deny the wrong that was done to you but instead you change your focus on God’s standard. Because as long as you insist on keeping the focus on you and how someone else hurt you, then, you put yourself in the same boat as the offender because you too you are wrong with God and you are sinning. The willingness to turn your heart toward God says that you are ready to trust His dealing of the matter instead of trusting your own judgement.

Once you begin the process to start looking at the situation with God in it and through Him, Admit that you have been hurt and your pride, your flesh, your ego are keeping you away from acting like a child of God. Admit to God your own sin and your willingness to move forward with His help. Usually, by the time I get to that step, I start praying for the offender. At the beginning it will hurt you because the pain is so fresh so your prayers will sound hollow and insincere. But while I am praying I usually beg God to teach me how to pray with all my heart for the offender because I know that is the only thing that would honour Him and bring Him Glory.  Changing your perception to see yourself not better than the other person, will always help you to want what is right in God’s sight.

If the offender is in your life and you have to deal with him or her, then it is important that you gently with the help of the Holy Spirit confronts this person and establish healthy boundaries. If you are dealing with someone who is mean-spirited, abusive, insensitive and has no willingness to change, then God never said you have to take the abuse, let the person off the hook for his or her actions or lack of actions, and to accept their lack of respect or ignoring the problem. It is not a godly way to handle the situation because sin is sin. God’s Word tells us to rebuke frankly so we will not share in his or her guilt (I paraphrase there). Honest rebukes every time, not only separate us for tolerating someone who is sinning over and over again, it also helps us to stop perpetuate an attitude where we offer ourselves as martyr so we can wallow in a pity party and play the victim. What you also need there, is to work on changing your own behaviour by taking a page from Christ who forgave while on the Cross. You need to think about Stephen who forgave those who stoned him. Christ also said to forgive as many times it is necessary. Even where there is no room for reconciliation, that is okay just as long as we make sure we keep an open heart willing to please Christ in the situation we are in. We do that by cultivating a Spirit not willing to maintain grudges and willing to obey God.

God has allowed me to thrive under these circumstances where I dealt with a lot of verbal abuse. There were circumstances in my life where I was judged, tried and sentenced all by the same people while they were wrong about my motives.  It is amazing to see how He sanctified me through those circumstances because I have learned to take them in His name and brought it all at His feet. God really means business when He said “vengeance is mine” He is truly your defense and will vindicate you too in His own time.

PRAYER: Father I pray hearts of stones would be softened and my brothers and sisters in Christ would be enlightened. They would learn to understand how important it is to forgive. Your Word does not offer an alternative to forgiveness, and no matter how cruel someone is to us, you expect us to forgive. So daddy, I pray that we would take forgiveness seriously to heart and in our walk with you. The Spirit of unforgiveness is destroying us and the Church, so I pray we would all get off our high horses, wake up and see Satan is having a feast on our account. Bring your holy repentance in our hearts. You taught us to forgive even as you hanged on the Cross. Father, teach us and help us make it a priority in our lives today my Lord!