As I started the process of writing this blog, I wanted to keep current themes that are easiest for me to write about. My life experiences and the way God has impacted them. I thought about several topics to write about. I tried to write about three separate topics before landing on this very one. The more I write these, the more I realize that I am not the one writing them, but it’s God speaking through me. And whether it’s just one or two people who stumble across my site, or God using this as a way to teach me, this blog is not my own.
With that being said, I’ve recently been struggling with the process of forgiveness. I’m the type of person that when someone wrongs me or hurts me, they’ll be able to tell I’m not very happy with them. Most of the time it’s short-term and I move on or talk to the person about what happened. But sometimes I chose to close myself off from those people. And while moving past certain people and separating yourself from those who do not benefit you is not a bad thing, keeping them in a dark place in your heart or is never healthy. The only person you hurt is yourself by keeping such a strong, negative emotion for someone.
Let me put it simply. Hate is a waste of time. Hating someone has really no effect on anyone other than yourself, and the best way to move past it is to forgive that person, even if they don’t deserve it.
How do you forgive someone who hurt you?
There are several steps to get rid of dark places and people in your heart. One of those is to pray for them. If you’ve ever prayed for someone you’re not very fond of, you know that it is not the easiest thing to do. For me, when I’ve prayed for those people it starts off very short, half-hearted and to be honest, I don’t really mean it. But every time, and every day I pray for that person I begin to mean it a little more.
Right actions can trigger right feelings.
My prayers towards others may not change them. But my prayers towards others will change me. While praying for that person, I had no idea what my prayers were doing in them, but I knew they were working in me. In Matthew 6:14-15, God tells 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 Father will not forgive your sins.” The second part of that verse weighed heavy on me. “But if you do not forgive others sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Which brings me to my second point. That we must forgive as we have been forgiven. The forgiven, forgive others. We learn this from Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Easier said than done.
One of my favorite stories in the bible about forgiveness is one of Peter’s and the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Peter goes to Jesus and asks him “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus replies to him, “I tell you, not seven times, but even seventy times seven.” And in this verse, I don’t think Jesus is giving Peter some mathematical equation to heal his heart and bitterness. But rather telling Peter that…
forgiveness is not about keeping score. It’s about losing count.
Jesus is telling Peter and the rest of us to live a lifestyle of constant forgiveness, that we must forgive all the time. (Matthew 8:21-22)
When someone wrongs you, what’s done is done and cannot be undone. But forgiveness and prayer set us free from the chains of hatred and grudges from the past.
Jesus asks us one thing, to forgive others in the same way he forgave us. Even if those people are not disserving. We ourselves are not deserving of God’s grace and forgiveness, but because of His gift and His son, we are able to pass it along.
While both of these things are essential for forgiveness, I was watching one of my favorite pastors Craig Groeschel give his sermon about forgiveness. And he said something that really stuck out to me. He stressed the importance of forgiving someone in a healthy way. I know in my life I went through a phase of trying to forgive someone, and I thought I had to have them back in my life in order to do so. That they had to be my friend and I needed to stay in contact with them in order to show my forgiveness, putting myself in painful situations in an attempt to extend grace. Pastor Groeschel put it simply, that you can “forgive from a distance.” Not long before hearing his words I was going through my “Jesus Journal” where I found a captivating paragraph. I’m not sure where it came from, when I wrote it, if it was my own thoughts, or I heard someone else say it. But, in dark bold letters, I wrote…
“My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given. But I can also stay healthy in this situation by remembering forgiveness doesn’t mean giving this person access to my life that sets me up for destructive patterns.”
If that doesn’t hit you hard…then read it again. To be honest I really hope those are my own thoughts because that’s some good stuff.
Our natural instinct is to treat others the way they have treated us. The kind we treat with kindness, and the unloving we show no love. But in Matthew 5:43-44 the bible says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Forgiveness sets us free from scorecards and leads us to love, grace, freedom, and forgiveness. Take power away from those who hurt you, and rest it in the hands of the one who created you.