Did I really forgive her? Why am I remembering the pain he caused me? I’m so frustrated. Why can’t I forgive?
I’ve repeatedly and intentionally made decisions to forgive my friends, my family, and others for the hurts that have pierced my soul.
Weeks, months, and years later, the hurt returned, and I felt ashamed. I thought I forgave her.
Friend, maybe you struggle with forgiveness. When painful memories collide with the present, we wonder how to forgive as God forgives . . . how to cast the memory of the hurt far away.
God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus into the world to take away sins and bring forgiveness.
Forgiveness flows from the love of God and is at the heart of the gospel.Tweet
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Is 43:25)
Friend, do you think that forgiveness is for your sake? Forgiveness is for God’s sake because He wants an intimate relationship with you. Additionally, God doesn’t recall sins that have been forgiven. The word for “remember” in this verse is zāḵar, “to cause to remember, to mention, to record, to make a memorial.” God knows all things and does not forget. However, He does not keep a record of forgiven sins or mention them again. In fact, He casts them as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).
We can also choose to forgive sins and not record them or mention them again.
Forgiveness is a choice to understand, bless, free, focus, and give.Tweet
5 Steps to Forgiveness
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Mat 6:14).
- Compassionate forgiveness chooses to understand.
Our different backgrounds, customs, traditions, and education help to form our thinking, words, and actions. When we suffer at the hands of others, if we look at the situation through the eyes of the offender, we can understand their perspective and pray for them. Perhaps they misunderstand the situation or are also hurting.
From the cross, Jesus acknowledged to the Father that the people had sinned, but He asked for their forgiveness because they didn’t understand what they were doing.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luk 23:34a).
- Gracious forgiveness chooses to bless.
Forgiveness blesses and builds up the other.
Friend, when someone speaks falsely against us or denies a relationship with us, we can look to Jesus for our example.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times. Jesus turned to look at Peter, and Peter left the courtyard and wept bitterly (Luk 22:54-62). After His resurrection, Jesus took Peter aside and commissioned Him to “feed My lambs, … tend My sheep … feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17).
Grace gives us what we don’t deserve.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:32).
- Forgiveness chooses to free.
When we forgive, we let go of the pain and experience freedom and peace. Forgiving another person also frees the one who has sinned, requiring nothing in return.
During the Apostle Paul’s life, there were about 60,000 slaves in the Roman Empire. Onesimus was a runaway slave who became a Christian and ministered to Paul in prison. Paul sent Onesimus back to his owner, Philemon, and asked Philemon to consider Onesimus as a brother in Christ and not a slave. Paul encouraged Philemon to “receive him as you would receive me” (Philemon 1:17).
Forgiveness erases the bondage of debt and replaces it with freedom in the Lord.
“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’” (Matthew 18:33).
- Faithful forgiveness focuses on God.
The Father’s cleansing power and righteousness empowers us to forgive others. Let’s focus upon God.
When Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that he would take revenge upon them for throwing him in the pit and then selling him as a slave. They approached Joseph, and he told them not to be afraid because God sent him to Egypt to preserve the people and his family during the famine. Joseph was faithful to God’s calling and did not account his brothers’ sins to them.
God uses our challenges to prepare us for the good works He has called us to do. As Joseph knew that God was faithful to equip him for saving the lives of thousands, we also know that God prepared good works for us to do and is preparing us to accomplish them (Eph 2:10).
God is faithful to forgive, and through Him, we can be faithful to forgive by keeping our eyes upon His plans for us.
“O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.” (Ps 86:5).
- Loving forgiveness gives all.
Forgiveness is at the heart of love.
God created man and woman in His image, but they disobeyed God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden. They no longer walked with God in the cool of the day. Since God is holy, those He walks with must be holy. But God loved His image-bearers and wanted to have a close relationship with them.
God loved the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price that you and I owe for our sins.
God’s love forged the path to forgiveness, the path to His divine love.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).
Choose to forgive … live in the freedom of God’s love.Tweet
God’s love for His followers endures forever, even when they reject Him. In His mercy, He beckons us to turn from our sins and be forgiven.
Jesus is our example. Jesus came to the world to take away sins and forgive all who would receive Him as Lord and Savior.
Love prompted forgiveness.
Jesus calls us to love God with all our being and to love one another as we love ourselves (Mat 22:37-40). Love like that freely forgives. Love like that lays down her life for others.
We all stumble in many ways (Jas 3:2). Yes, we will continue to need forgiveness and to forgive. But dear friend, we are building each other up in our faith.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col 3:12-14).
Forgiving Father, thank You for sending Your Son into the world to take away sins. Jesus, You have laid down Your life for us and call us friend, choosing not to recall our sins. Thank You. Holy Spirit, prompt us to forgive as Jesus has forgiven. Enable us to cast the memory of the sins of others as far as the east is from the west. In lovingkindness, we want to freely forgive others. In Jesus’ name, amen.