Forgiving From the Heart
If you have offended someone else, don’t attempt to worship God when you are convicted to do otherwise (Matt. 5:24). Go first to those who have something against you, seek their forgiveness and be reconciled. If someone has offended you, don’t go to that person. Go first to God and forgive that person as Christ has forgiven you. It is critical to understand the difference, because many people wrongly think that they have to go to the person who offended them in order to forgive them. Forgiveness is a prerequisite for reconciliation, but reconciliation may not always be possible. The person you need to forgive may be dead or unreachable. In some cases it would be unwise. Confronting an offender who is unrepentant may actually set one up for even more abuse.
Jesus said we should continue forgiving as many times as is necessary (Matt. 18: 21-35). The parable puts our need to forgive others in perspective. God has forgiven us a debt that was unpayable. “Ten thousand talents” was way beyond a life time wage (vs. 24). We simply cannot pay off the debt we owe God. Therefore, we have no choice but to throw ourselves upon His mercy. In comparison, a denarii is a day’s wage (vs. 28). It may be possible to pay off that debt, but the man who had received mercy from God showed no mercy to his fellow man. God requires us to be merciful as He has been merciful to us, and to forgive as He has forgiven us. The following are steps to forgiving from our hearts:
1. Ask the Lord to reveal to your mind the people you need to forgive, including all those you have negative feelings toward. Don’t overlook the need to let yourself off your own hook.
2. Face the hurt and the feelings of hatred. If you are going to forgive from the heart, you have to allow the painful memories to surface. If you are unwilling to admit to the pain and the emotional damage the forgiveness process will be incomplete. We try to suppress our emotions, but God is trying to surface those names and events.
3. Forgiveness is a crisis of the will. You choose to bear the consequences of their sin. You choose to let go of the past and grab hold of God. You choose not to seek revenge. You cannot wait until you feel like forgiving, because you will never get there. God is not asking you to like the person who offended you. He is asking you to accept His provision for your freedom and healing of your damaged emotions. He is asking you to let Him be the avenger. He is asking you to forgive from your heart every person who has offended you and for every offensive thing they did as follows:
Lord, I forgive ____________ (person) for _____________________________ (Verbally express every hurt and pain the Lord brings to your mind and how it made you feel).
4. After you have forgiven every person for every painful memory, finish by praying:
Lord, I release all these people to you, and I release my right to seek revenge. I choose not to hold on to my bitterness and anger, and I ask you to heal my damaged emotions. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
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