Forgiveness is tough. We are called to do it, and yet nowhere in the bible is there a step-by-step guide as to how to change our hearts and quickly forgive.
Instead, Jesus leaves us with a blueprint of what it looks like to live fully in God’s will and what it looks like to love exactly as He calls us to.
But, when applying these truths to forgiveness, we can sometimes get caught up and hung up on the technicalities.
As I’ve worked through some deep and difficult times of forgiveness, I’ve learned some truths that are so important to remember as you walk through the web of following God’s call to forgive.
1. It’s a Daily Commitment
Forgiveness is a choice.
And it’s a choice that oftentimes needs to be made daily. When you choose to forgive someone, you are releasing the burden of their wrongdoing to God.
Forgiveness is choosing to give up your anger and to put the outcome of the life of the one who hurt you in God’s loving hands.
It isn’t easy and it doesn’t sound logical. That is why when you choose to forgive, you will often have to make that choice daily. Our natural reactions are to hold onto hurts. It serves as a method of self-protection. But in doing so, we are placing ourselves in control of our own protection.
Choosing to forgive the one who hurt you means that you are offering your heart up to God for for the protection that only He can truly provide. It means that you are trusting that God loves you and is working for Your good no matter what.
When you do this, the weight of unforgiveness will lift and you will be able to begin to find peace.
2. Feelings Won’t Always Follow
After you choose to forgive, you won’t always feel it. And that is okay!
Forgiveness is an attitude, not a feeling. When you forgive another, you are choosing to adopt an attitude of trust in God.
This begins with an action. Pray to God and confess the forgiveness of those who hurt you.
I promise you, in time, the feelings will come. God sees your heart and He will transform it.
3. Hurting is Okay
Forgiving the one that hurt you doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to feel the hurt. For so long, I was afraid to forgive another because I thought it meant giving up my right to feel the pain of what had been done.
I wasn’t ready to give up that right. I was still hurting and I thought I had to wait until I was over it to truly forgive.
This is a lie. When we forgive, we are releasing the other person into God’s hands. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be angry.
But when anger comes, be sure to take it to the Lord. That is the act of forgiveness.
When we forgive, we can no longer hold onto our anger. You can feel it, but don’t live in it.
4. Prayer is Essential
Prayer focuses our heart on Christ. When we struggle to forgive, we must remember who our heart belongs to.
When you hold onto unforgiveness, your heart will be pulled away from Christ. That is why it is so essential to commit to forgiveness every day and to bring it to God in prayer as often as you can.
Sometimes this means once a day. But other times, it may mean several times a day.
When you are really struggling with the hurt of another’s offense, it is important to bring it to God in prayer as often as it enters your mind.
In doing so, you can give it to God and find His peace in return.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
God calls us to think about what is good and pure. In giving our hearts to God in forgiveness, we are freeing ourselves to think and reflect on what is good. When we do this, God promises that His peace will be with us. Bring your anger and your pain to God and in exchange, He will bring you peace.
5. You Have the Power of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit lives in you. He is there to intercede on your behalf when you are hurting so badly that you cannot.
There have been times in my life where I have been so hurt or upset that I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to God. This is when the Holy Spirit steps in.
The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer and is always working to transform your heart and bring you into a closer relationship with God.
When you struggle with forgiveness, remember that the Holy Spirit is working in you, making your heart new.
Trust that although some moments seem hard, God is transforming your heart and will redeem your hurt.
As we journey to forgive the ones who have hurt us, we must be assured that God is working in our hearts. As long as we follow His call and bring our hearts to Him in obedience, He will bring us peace.
What has helped you to overcome the hurdle of forgiveness?
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