The Three-Step Process of Forgiveness
When you’ve been hurt or betrayed, do you find it difficult to forgive? Many people do. In fact, forgiveness is an issue that both Christians and non-Christians struggle with mostly because it is often misunderstood.
Many times, we struggle with forgiving someone because it feels like we’re agreeing with or condoning the hurtful behavior. Other times we may genuinely want to forgive someone but we just can’t seem to get past our anger and our resentment. And there are still other times when we think we’ve forgiven someone, only to feel the familiar stab of anger resurfacing at a later time. So, what do you then?
Often, the whole process of forgiveness is so painful and confusing many of us just give up on it altogether. But this decision is dangerous. It is crucial that we learn what the Bible teaches about forgiveness and learn how to apply this to our lives otherwise we will remain stuck in our bitterness, anger and resentment. Not only will our lack of forgiveness hinder our relationship with God and with others, but it will eventually affect our physical health as well, possibly even causing illness.
This is why God has commanded that we forgive. And out of His grace, He has also provided us with the best way to do this.
Here’s God’s path to forgiveness, summarized in a three-step process:
1. Forgiveness is a choice. When it comes down to it, forgiveness is a choice. It’s choosing to take a step of faith and not to hold someone responsible for hurting you any longer. You can choose to remember that God has forgiven you and then to extend your forgiveness to others. Even if you don’t feel like it, you can choose to release the person into the hands of God, who is a righteous judge.
2. Forgiveness is a process that starts with prayer. At first you might find yourself praying prayers that are not very nice, prayers of retribution and justice, asking God to “give them what they deserve.” But as continue praying, try asking God to bless them and come to their aide. Anything you can do to bless their life will free your soul.
3. Forgiveness is final. You know when you’ve finally forgiven someone when you hear something good about him or her and your initial immediate response is honest joy that something went well with him or her. It’s then you know that you’re done.
Now here’s the game-changer. If you’re still having difficulty forgiving someone, try practicing this every time you take the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion). Commit to not taking the Lord’s Supper until you’ve refreshed your forgiveness. Use that moment before or during to pray for the person who hurt you and bless him or her. For some people, this process may take a few months or a few years. But be encouraged, the process of forgiveness is possible! With God’s help, your heart can change for the better.
Download the Free MP3 message Overcoming Broken Relationships from the series Unstuck.
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