Forgiveness is one of the most difficult Biblical truths for many people. Tweet This!
If you are struggling with forgiveness, understanding what it truly means is the first step. Here are just a few of the questions that you might be asking yourself when it comes to forgiveness:
- If I forgive, does it mean the other person got away with it?
- Are there some things that are unforgivable?
- Is there specific time frame around forgiving someone?
- Do I need to be in a relationship with that person just because I forgave them?
In Rick Warren’s devotional, he gives four steps in forgiveness that may clear the fog about how to experience the peace that forgiveness can bring:
So if God expects us to forgive others, what does healthy, biblical forgiveness look like? Here’s a four-part process that we should walk through as we’re dealing with pain brought upon by others.
- Recognize no one is perfect. When we hate somebody, we tend to lose our perspective about that person. When we’re filled with resentment and bitterness and hurt, we tend to dehumanize the offender. We treat them like an animal. But we’re all in the same boat. The Bible says, “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT, second edition). We’re all imperfect.
- Relinquish your right to get even. This is the heart of forgiveness. The Bible says, “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (Romans 12:19a TLB). You deserve to retaliate, but you must commit not to do so. It’s not fair, but it’s healthy. This isn’t a one-time decision but a daily one that may even require moment-by-moment decisions.
- Respond to the evil with good. This is how you know you’ve fully released someone from the wrong that has been committed against you. Humanly speaking, it’s nearly impossible to respond to evil with good. You’ll need God’s help. You’ll need the love of Jesus to fill you up. Why? God’s love doesn’t keep track of wrongs (see 1 Corinthians 13).
- Refocus on God’s plan for your life. You stop focusing on the hurt and the person who hurt you. Instead, you refocus on God’s purpose for your life, which is greater than any problem or pain you might be currently facing. As long as you continue to focus on the person who has hurt you, that person controls you. In fact, you can take it a step further. If you don’t release your offender, you will begin to resemble your offender.
While forgiveness can be difficult and pain is real; take the time you need to grieve the injustice. Not all offenses require a year to extend forgiveness. The sooner you can forgive, the better YOU will feel.
Holding on to unforgiveness is harmful to your health spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Tweet This! If necessary, find Godly counsel to help you through the difficulty and walk you through the forgiveness process.
Remember, forgiveness is to allow God to set you free and replace the pain with peace.