Romans 12 provides us with steps to forgive those who’ve hurt or persecuted us. in this article, we unpack Chip Ingram’s 3 steps and learn how to apply them to our lives and begin to experience healing.
If you’d like to jump ahead to each of the steps, use the links below.
3 Healing Steps To Forgive Those Who Have Hurt and Betrayed You
All of us struggle from time to time. But some of us are prisoners of our struggles.
We eat when we aren’t hungry. We have ulcers, migraines, and physical discomfort. Some of us battle addictions. Many of us explode in anger for no reason.
Maybe this describes you or someone in your life. Where does this kind of struggle come from? What’s at the root of these struggles, and how can we experience healing and overcome?
In Romans 12, God has revealed to us what’s at the core of our pain and gives us practical steps to begin healing.
Today, you’re going to learn the steps that can set you free.
LEARNING ROMANS 12 FORGIVENESS
At the root of many struggles is our inability to take the healing steps to forgive those who have hurt and persecuted us. We’ve allowed them to become an enemy in our lives.
These are the people who’ve maliciously hurt you or your family, or persecuted you because of your faith. I’m sorry for your experience. It’s not how the world was meant to be. You are valuable and loved.
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And yet, because of our problem with sin, it’s a common occurrence.
Most of us can picture someone who’s caused lasting pain in our lives. That pain doesn’t have to continue weighing you down. There is a way out of the prison, and it’s been revealed to us in the Scriptures.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. -Romans 14-16
Let’s unpack the following three verses and apply them to our struggles.
3 Healing Steps To Forgive Your Enemy
1. Bless those who persecute you.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” -Romans 12:14
This feels like a tall order! But as believers, this is what we’re called to do.
This passage literally means to desire ultimate goodness for someone else. We should desire their salvation and favor and God’s richest blessings.
As counterintuitive as it feels, this is God’s prescription for your soul: Bless them.
Are they married? Ask for their marriage to flourish.
Do they have kids? Pray their kids will prosper.
What about their job? Ask that it would be a blessing in their life.
Does this feel uncomfortable? It should! Being a Romans 12 Christian is impossible. That’s why we need God’s grace.
But ignoring this command to bless those who persecute us will sew a root of anger and bitterness in our hearts. The result is a prison of our own making.
Praying blessings for them will begin to slowly turn your heart towards forgiveness. This doesn’t happen immediately, in fact, it can take years. In the meantime, bless your enemies.How can we bless our enemies? Pray for and desire their salvation and God’s richest blessings. Pray for their relationships to flourish and their lives to prosper. Being a Romans 12 Christian isn’t hard, it’s impossible! Click To Tweet
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2. Identify with them.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” -Romans 12:15
The second step to forgive our enemies is to identify with them in their joys and losses.
Do you need a command to rejoice with your best friend who just received a promotion or a parent who just got the “all clear” medical report? Of course not!
Similarly, we don’t need a reminder to mourn when our co-worker loses a spouse or our kids don’t make the team. We naturally show compassion and empathy towards those we love.
This is where becoming a Romans 12 Christian goes from hard to crazy-hard. The context of this verse is to instruct us how to treat our enemies: show them compassion.
Is the person who’s persecuted you mourning a loss? Bring them a meal or send a card.
Is your enemy posting pictures of a luxurious family vacation? Tell them congratulations and comment on some of their pictures.
When you act compassionately towards those who hurt you and associate with them, you begin to loosen your grip on your anger or lack of forgiveness. This is how you would hope to be treated.
This is the hardest part to understand since it’s natural to want justice. But justice is not ours. More on that below.It’s easy to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” when we have a good relationship with that person. A Romans 12 Christian rejoices and mourns, even with those who’ve hurt them. Click To Tweet
3. Associate with them.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. -Romans 12:16
How can a Christian live in an antagonistic, dog-eat-dog world?
Paul is clear that we are to live in harmony with each other and not be conceited. Don’t be too good to associate and have compassion on your enemy (see Step 2). Even when it’s hard, act compassionately and identify with them.
Here’s the warning: For some of us, this is easy. And yet, if it’s too simple, be careful to not let your association become a matter of pride. Bless them humbly.
The reality is that—in a moment of pressure or weakness—you and I might have acted the same way they did when they hurt you.
Therefore, we don’t come as superiors. Rather, we come associating, connecting, understanding our low position. In humility we bless them, knowing this truth:
But for the grace of God, I would be doing those things to others.Beware of retaliation fantasies! When we take revenge into our own hands, it usurps God’s role as judge. He is good and sovereign, and we release that job to Him alone. Click To Tweet
WHAT ABOUT RETALIATION?
When you’ve been hurt, it’s typical to have “retaliation fantasies.” Here are two reasons retaliation is prohibited:
1. VENGEANCE IS GOD’S
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. -Romans 12:19
When we take revenge into our own hands, it usurps God’s role as judge. God is holy, compassionate, and just, and we trust that ultimately, every one of us will get what we deserve. And sometimes, don’t we beg God to NOT give us what we deserve? But that’s not justice!
God is sovereign and a good judge. Trust Him and release that job to Him.
2. PEACE IS THE PRIORITY
Because retribution is an unproductive technique of achieving peace, it is outside of God’s law. He wants us to live as peacemakers who don’t cling to our rights in this in a fallen, sinful world.
According to Romans 12, Christians should be described as:
- Good people
- Not easily offended or having a
- Victim attitude
- Prioritizing a peaceful environment
These are just a few of the ways Christians can live like Christians. Romans 12 is a chapter that instructs us how to go beyond religion and experience True Spirituality.
Study the Bible daily with Chip as he leads a Daily Discipleship: True Spirituality study through Romans 12. Learn more and register today!
Applying these 3 healing steps to forgive your enemy can happen in a moment or over the course of a lifetime.
Be aware of the root cause of your unwanted behaviors and emotions, and ask God if He has something to reveal regarding a lack of forgiveness in your life.
Explore God’s purpose for your life, how to thrive in Christian community, and more Romans 12 wisdom when you join the True Spirituality Daily Discipleship journey with Chip Ingram.
Daily Discipleship: True Spirituality 17-Day Study
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip