True Forgiveness is a Heart Issue
We've all heard it..."I forgive you but I won't forget". Will true forgiveness erase the memory? We all have been hurt by someone close to us. We've all been asked for forgiveness. Sometimes, we're not even asked but we know we should forgive. When the pain goes really deep, forgiving others get really hard. I have come to learn that truly forgiving someone does not mean saying the words, it is much more deep. True forgiveness comes from the heart. I also contend, we cannot truly forgive without the love of Christ in our hearts.
What is Forgiveness?
It is true that forgiveness is more that a religious word. You don't have to be religious to benefit from learning how to forgive others. Forgiveness doesn't mean saying things you don't feel or just burying the pain. It means not only acknowledging your feelings, but letting those feelings go by making peace with yourself and others.
The ultimate example of forgiveness is Luke 23:33 ...Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." They intentionally killed Jesus but yet in His last moments of life, he asked God to forgive them. His heart forgave them at the most painful moment of his life.
What about us? When the pain racks so deep, can we pray and ask God to forvgive the one who hurt us so deeply. Deep hurt reaches the heart so in order for the hurt to be cleansed and someone forgiven, the forgiveness must come from the hurt heart. It can't be lip service.
Additonal Steps of Forgiveness
Forgive yourself if necessary. Did you contribute to the problem or hurt? Forgiving yourself may take the focus off of who's right and who's wrong and accept that conflicts are a two-way street. It also helps you "practice" forgiveness.
Be honest about your feelings. Acknowledge what you are feeling... be it pain, anger or resentment. Ask God to help you to work through these emotions before you forgive.
Accept that you can't control other people's actions. An unwillingness to forgive can result from a desire to control other people's actions. You may feel someone "won't change" if you forgive what happened. But people won't change unless they want to change and God changes them.
Avoid rehashing the Past. After you've decided to forgive someone, let the hurt feelings go. Don't reopen the wounds by bringing the offense back up. This may mean you haven't really forgiven the person.
The Great Example
As mentioned earlier, Jesus forgave the ultimate wrong. As Christians, we are to strive to be more like Him. Oh yea, it's hard..but with His example, faith and prayer, His healing hands can heal our broken heart which will make forgiveness so much easier.
Positive Examples of Forgiveness
Genesis 50:15-21, I Samuel 24:10-13; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:54-60
Negative Examples of Forgiveness
Genesis 27:41-45; Jonah 3:10--4:2, Matthew 18:21-35