5 Practical Steps to ForgiveJan 23, 2024
February is typically the month we focus on love because of Valentine’s Day. Most of the time, we talk about the mushy romantic parts of love. However, I want to focus on the not-so-fun but necessary part of love, forgiveness.
Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
This statement is so true! Holding on to unforgiveness does nothing but bring harm to your own life. Plus, it stops you from experiencing the blessings of God.
The scripture tells us that God IS love. He is the very definition of love. You can read 1 Cor. 13:4-8 to find out what the character of this kind of love acts like. If you have ever been to a wedding, you have probably heard this verse sprinkled into the ceremony…” love is patient and kind…”
In addition to being patient and kind, it says in 1 Cor 13:5, “love is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it (it pays no attention to a suffered wrong).
I’m so thankful that love is forgiving. More than that, I’m so grateful that God has forgiven and continually forgives me. Colossians 2:13 says, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, HAVING FORGIVEN YOU ALL TRESPASSES.”
Did you hear that? God loves you so much that He has forgiven all the sins you have ever committed, thought of committing, and will commit in the future! It is all covered by the blood of Jesus. Jesus took it all on Himself and gave you and me a clean slate. Isaiah 43:25 declares that He doesn’t even remember those sins. That means when you keep asking for forgiveness about something you have already asked Him to forgive, He doesn’t even know what you are talking about!
Accept and receive forgiveness for yourself.
You can forgive because He first forgave you when you didn’t deserve it. None of us deserve forgiveness. If deserving was a prerequisite, none of us would be forgiven. Ephesians 2:8 says,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
You can’t do anything to earn forgiveness from God - it is a gift that you must simply receive by faith. That means you see that it is for you (just like a gift with your name on it) and take it. That’s it!
You are saved by grace. The definition of grace means unmerited favor. You can’t get it on your own merits. No one could ever be good enough to get it on their own. You RECEIVE salvation and forgiveness through the ABCs of faith (Romans 10:9)
A- Acknowledge that Jesus lived and died for you. (took your sins)
B- Believe in your heart (trust) that God raised Jesus from the grave.
C- Confess that Jesus is the Lord of your life. (You are washed clean from your sins)
Give the gift of forgiveness the same way.
Likewise, giving forgiveness works in the same way - by faith. You can’t wait till you feel like forgiving. In fact, it will work contrary to what you want to do. Giving forgiveness works the same way as receiving forgiveness/salvation. (Romans 10:9)
A- Acknowledge that it is only through Jesus that any sin against you can be forgiven.
B- Believe in your heart (trust) that if God could raise Jesus from the dead, He can restore what has been stolen from you as well. He can bring you out of your grave of despair.
C- Confess your forgiveness of a person, yourself, or even a situation. It is a choice, not a feeling. You must forgive by faith and allow God to heal you.
Your mind and emotions will more than likely tell you that you will never forgive. Some people say they will forgive but not forget. To me, that is still holding on to the offense. We read earlier that God forgives AND forgets. Now, I’m not saying that you will totally forget what happened to you. However, true forgiveness will not allow the remnants of hatred and bitterness to fester on the inside of you over and over.
If someone wants to give you a gift, you don’t have to wait to FEEL like receiving it to take and open it. In fact, usually, the feelings that accompany receiving a gift occur after the gift has been opened.
Likewise, it might take a while to fully unwrap the gift of forgiveness you receive or give to others. Therefore, the feelings of peace you want will usually not be present until you have received or given forgiveness by faith.
Now, I want to be very clear about what forgiveness is NOT.
Forgiveness is not saying that what happened to you is okay.
Forgiveness is not giving someone a pass from consequences.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean everything is going to be back to “normal.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to let someone back into your circle of influence.
In any situation we face, we need to listen to the wisdom of God and follow His leading in every area of our lives.
We will continue our discussion on forgiveness in the next blog. However, I want to leave you with:
5 Practical Steps to Forgiving.
- Confess - speak to the offense - declare that you forgive.
For example, say out loud (speaking words out loud is powerful) “I forgive ______ of ___________. It is a decision that I made today by faith! I refuse to listen to my feelings about this person or situation any longer.”
- Write down what you spoke out loud and date it.
Create a contract with yourself, God, and the devil. Date and sign your declaration to forgive. The devil will come to you with a feeling contrary to forgiveness every time you see that person or have a memory triggered. That is when having it written down is powerful.
- Remind the devil that you forgave.
Remind the devil that your forgiveness is not a feeling but a choice by faith. Say, I forgave ____ on (date), it wasn’t a feeling, but a choice. Therefore, _______ is still forgiven.”
- Reconceptualize the situation.
Turn the narrative around in your mind. You are not the victim but the victor. You are above and not beneath. (Deuteronomy 28:13) View forgiveness as taking decisive action on your behalf. You are saying that enough is enough, and you WILL NOT be tied to that person or that situation any longer. Imagine using a big pair of metal cutters to cut the chain that has held you to that thing or person and sets you free.
We live in a sinful world. People make mistakes, act rudely, say things that hurt, and do evil things because we live in a world dominated by evil. Each of us falls into the same trap at varying degrees and need our Father God’s forgiveness daily. (Eph. 6:12)
Jesus overcame the devil once and for all, and He gave us the same authority over him. The scripture says we overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelations 12:11) We can overcome any bad situation through Jesus’ blood and speak words of faith instead of words of defeat.