But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15 NLT. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 NIV
This halfway station is the place that many stop all together. The demands within this verse are almost insurmountable. Why would God put a stipulation upon us that our forgiveness for our own personal sins are somehow connected with our forgiving someone else? Where are the exceptions? We probably desire to respond like the disciples in John 6:60, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Forgiveness follows love. If we are in relationship with others, we will get offended. Offenses are inevitable. And when we are hurt by others, Jesus expects us to forgive them. Those closest to you will hurt you. The pastor and people of the church you are attending may hurt your feelings, maybe even intentionally. Some people get hurt and then just quit going to church. They may complain about all those “hypocrites” that attend that church. To some degree they are correct. The church is full of people, all people, who are imperfect and make mistakes. God’s remedy to protect our heart against hurt is to learn to forgive.
How does one learn to forgive?
- Release the debt. When speaking about forgiveness, Jesus used accounting terminology like money being owed. When someone hurts or offends you, it makes you feel as though they are indebted to you. You may think if you hurt them back, then you can begin to bring the account back to even. You may entertain thoughts of inflicting some type of pain on the person that hurt you, then you could settle the score. The problem is there is no amount of revenge or justice that will settle the score to release the debt you feel in your heart…except forgiveness.
o In your mind’s eye, see yourself remove that person’s debt owed to you off the scales of justice. The person’s debt is cancelled. When you do this, the scales move back to equal.
o Make a conscious decision (perhaps even write it down) to release the person from ever being able to repay you…their debt is canceled. This activity cuts the cords that are strangling your freedom. Your unforgiveness is the weight that haunts you, not just the injustice that occurred. Cancelling the debt puts you on the road to freedom.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting. Time does not heal all wounds. True it may not “eat at you” every day. But Jesus expects us to work through releasing (forgiving) others. A thorn left unattended can cause lots of pain and harm later.
o Is there a significant event that needs forgiveness, that you have not wanted to “deal with”?
- Forgiveness starts with being spoken. Maybe you start by hearing yourself say it first. Saying it aloud and asking God to help you forgive, moves you into the path of experiencing the wonderful freedom of forgiving others. Freedom or bondage will follow your words. If you say you can’t forgive, then you remain stuck. In order to break free, we speak what is the right direction that we desire for our lives. For example, say it aloud to God first, “Father God, I now forgive my Mom for the hurtful words that she yelled at me.” Later perhaps, you can then speak those words to your mother that you forgive her.
- Forgiveness is not condoning the hurt or action. If someone beat you physically, forgiveness does not condone that action. There may still need to be actions of justice by law enforcement. But forgiveness cuts the cords connecting you to the hurt. You are releasing them from controlling how you feel and respond to the event.
o How does knowing that God is the ultimate judge affect your thoughts about people “getting away with wrong doing”?
- The end expression of forgiveness is blessing. When we forgive, we have the ability to speak life toward the one who hurt us. This will keep our heart free and places the person in position to receive the help they need from God.
o Is there a person that you have forgiven, that you are now ready to start blessing?
- 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT
Everyone has stuff in which we need to forgive others.
This ROUND of Forgiveness is incredibly difficult, but the transformation that takes place is worth all of the effort. Work through the pain, even if you need to find someone to help you. Find some comfort in Jesus while He worked through his injustice while dying on the cross…”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Blessings Love y’all