…and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us (Matt 6:12).
Since God is Love, it is impossible to truly, unselfishly love– the kind of love He wants us to demonstrate—without Him. Like love, forgiveness is not just difficult; it is impossible without Jesus.
Forgiving is a command. We are told in Colossians 3:13 to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. It even came from the mouth of Jesus, Himself in the Lord’s Prayer. But love and forgiveness are complicated because they are spiritual issues connected with emotions. That makes it pret-ty messy.
The first step is a choice—to choose to forgive. It prepares our head for what only God can do in our heart.
So what if we choose to forgive. We can’t just wish ourselves into actually forgiving. Selfishness is a quality of our human nature; forgiveness and love of someone who hurt us or our loved ones is unnatural. We NEED spiritual help.
Let’s look at scripture for practical counsel:
Ephesians 4:29 says Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their need. . .Next step–No more badmouthing. Even if you’re the victim. It feels so good, especially if we get agreement from someone, but don’t allow yourself the “luxury” of critical words—even if they’re true, although the truth, when we’re hurt, tends to get embellished.
Next–Just because we choose to forgive and we’re suspending critical talk, doesn’t mean we need to bury how we feel. That’s not even healthy.
Hebrews 5:7 tells us that During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears… Jesus is familiar first-hand with emotions! He felt anger, sorrow, and grief. He was betrayed, and when He assumed our sins, He even experienced abandonment.
But Jesus did not let those emotions and feelings control Him. They didn’t control His behavior. His response aligned with the will of the Father and often He extended grace and mercy and love.
So recognize those feelings, but don’t allow yourself to wallow in them. Don’t take up residence there—in your anger, in your hurt.
We may choose to forgive, but dealing with the emotions which are tied to the incidents is where we really need Jesus in order to experience resolution and peace in our own hearts—the peace that passes all understanding.
We are not commanded to forgive and forget. But we are commanded to forgive, and we can choose with the help of the Holy Spirit not to dwell on the negatives, even if they flare up again and again. We can’t do it on our own. Pray and be obedient as the Lord leads.
This is the most important step—Pray. Pray and be obedient as the Lord leads. He may lead you to apologize. Or He may lead you to wait (This is a hard one for me who wants resolution yesterday).
And pray for “that” person. Pray good things for that person. We’re to Build each other up according to their need. That need may be attention, or encouragement, or understanding. We may even develop some empathy or compassion. And we may be the only person praying for him/her.
A little sidebar: It is awesome to remember that we may not be able to both forgive AND forget, but that is exactly an attribute of God and what He does with our sins.
God removes our sins from us as far as the East is from the West, not the North from the South. At the Poles, the directions touch and change; north changes to south. But a person can go east or west infinitely without ever reattaching to those forgiven sins.
Grasping the scope of the love and forgiveness of God is mindboggling, but He is ready and willing to give us the knowledge, strength and power to do His will which is to forgive as we have been forgiven.