Forgiveness is not an optionis a statement that bears the need to repeat. God commands us to forgive in more than a hundred instances throughout the bible. In one moment Jesus is telling the disciples to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-35). In another he tells them to be kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as He has forgiven them (Ephesians 4:32). In still another Jesus says to bless those who persecute them and not curse them (Romans 12:14). In none of these instances does the Lord say anything about “if you want to” or “if you feel like it” and yet God gives to us in this life, and eternally, based on the fact that he gives us our freedom to choose death or to “choose life” (Deut 28).
Forgiveness to many is based upon how they feel about the offense and is determined by the severity of the offense as well. “But you don’t know what they did..” is one of the most common responses to the topic of forgiveness, or “I won’t give them the satisfaction of it..” Most do not understand that forgiveness has nothing to do with how they feel but everything to do with choice, the effects of that choice upon their own lives and their spiritual growth and destination. Just as it has been said that love is a choice, so it follows that forgiveness is a choice also. God expects us to choose in accordance with what he commands us in his Word.
So, if we are to choose the action of forgiveness, how does one get past all those hurting feelings that are wrapped up in such a choice. What is it that we are choosing anyway? It is simple but hard. The feelings of offense are very powerful. Make no mistake about it. We, in and of ourselves cannot do this. This is truly one of those times that we have to rely upon the Lord and His power. He says that when we are weak, then in Him we are strong ( 2Cor 12:10). There is direction for this in the Word as well. Jesus says inPhilippians 4:8 to think on these things..whatever is pure, lovely, excellent, commendable, worthy of praise. In Deut 28 He tells us to choose life. So whenever the thoughts turn to the offense and the pain it causes, make the choice to turn the thoughts to that which is good in God’s eyes and in accordance to His Word.
Apowerful prayer for this can be “Lord, I choose as an act of my will to forgive so-and-so ( him or her or them) for whatever the offense is and I ask you to make it real and genuine in my heart”. This sometimes may need to be repeated many times unto feeling as if it were constant and even turning the mind to actually praying for the one who did the offense. This act takes ones mind off the offense and onto the Lord and lines the heart up with obedience to His Word. God blesses obedience (1 Samuel 15:25) and with diligence and in time His power truly causes the heart to “remember with peace“.
Numerous comments and questions about the previous article, Forgiveness is not an option, has prompted part 2. Many books have been written on the subject so this is not by any means an exhaustive on forgiveness but rather a few pertinent and important insights.
One cannot say enough or stress enough the crucial importance of forgiveness in the life of a believer. As said in the previous article God actually commands us to forgive. Why does God command us to do that which is so difficult to do? Feelings in this area are so powerful. Forgiveness unto salvation and peace and blessings for ourselves would be reason enough to forgive others. But we also release others more effectively into God’s hands as well.
The first and most important aspect of forgiveness is the fact thatwe cannot even have salvation without it. It is clearly the fact that a person realizes that he is a sinner that causes him to even look to a savior to give salvation to him..to alleviate himself of the burden and weight of his sin (Matthew 5:3). After we have come to the Lord and have received our salvation by it, it is then that Jesus says to forgive others as He forgave us in the first place (Ephesians 4:32). It is also clear that we cannot be forgiven of our own day-to-day sins without forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:14-15).
Forgiveness Releases for Salvation
This release of an offender through the choice to forgive also brings blessings into our lives. We are all in need of allowance for our own behaviors and thoughts and God promises that in whatever measure we use he will give back to us. If we are of a giving and forgiving spirit we will certainly reap what we sow into the lives of others. If we give forgiveness to others who have offended us, others will in turn forgive us. God promises that He, Himself will bless us with heavenly joys as well as earthly ones into our bosom and life(Luke 6:38)… pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.
So look into the Word. It’s Jesus. Contemplate the verses given there and others you may find. If you don’t have a bible it would be good to get one. If that isn’t possible, look online. There is a myriad of resources online.
Forgiveness comes to us and must flow from us in order to come back to us.
In the discussion about forgiveness, numerous aspects of forgiveness have been covered. First, the statement that forgiveness is not an option and how the Word of God actually shows that God requires us to do so. The previous articles stated as to how that can be done, why it must be done, and the results of the completion of forgiveness to others. This 3rd part is being written to address yet another aspect of forgiveness; those who have gone through abject cruelty at some point either in their life as a child or at the hands of another in their adult life or both.
There are many kinds of cruelty in the world and many stories have been written and or heard about abuse and the devastation it placed upon its victims. The reactions or results of abuse can be as different or varied as the individuals involved. But the general result is that the soul suffers a kind of death within itself. The suffering of the soul can even impede learning and emotional development throughout a person’s life; especially if the abuse was perpetrated at a very young age. This aspect of abuse is mentioned in this series of articles because of the deeply rooted damage that occurs with the abuse making forgiveness seemingly insurmountable as well as the many difficulties that crop up in the victim’s ability to handle themselves in relationships later in life. It is usually later in life that an abused child begins to realize where his emotional pain and difficulties stem from in current relationships.
This now brings us to the aspect of forgiveness. Anyone who has suffered tragically at the hands of another, whether as a child or as an adult, has what can feel like a monumental chore to do to be able to obey God’s Word in the area of forgiveness. As it was stated in the first article of this series, forgiveness is a choice and has nothing to do with how one feels about it. But, having said that forgiveness can be a very different journey for the heart of one who has suffered so much and so deeply. The whole process for forgiving someone for a tragic hurt can take more time, much prayer, and even counseling by a Christian-based professional or by a pastor. While Christian-based counseling can certainly be helpful, much greater emphasis should be placed in the direction of prayer groups under the guidance of a pastor and/or healing minister as well. The Word calls for believers to be transformed in the renewing of their minds ( Romans 12:2 ).
Forgiveness Helps Us to Love Others
It is precisely the renewing of the mind that is so needed for the ability to let go and forgive someone for a tragedy against one’s soul, body, or spirit as well as for the healing to be able to take place. What a believer does when they use the scriptures in this way (think on these things…Phillippians 4:8) is to take a beautiful step forward into the arms of Christ to receive His response to it. A believer can actually sense the presence of a very loving merciful God in the person of Jesus. There can be thoughts and feelings of risk for this step forward (choice) given the past experiences of tragic abuse. But spending time in the Word and in prayer is to spend time with Jesus, Himself, and in time the believer begins to realize that indeed a transformation has taken place. Jesus tells us to come to Him. Let Him love on you and begin to understand a love that is the sweetest love you will ever know. This realization gives way to a sense of freedom, release, sweet joys unspeakable, and a newfound awareness of the passion of a loving God for loving and healing each of His children.
Healing a Child in You
Healing Your Adult
Let Jesus love you back to life. Let Him love you from the child you were to the adult man or woman you have become. It is a journey but it is certainly worth it!