Forgiveness isn't complicated, but it is difficult. This topic comes up all the time in counseling. Simply put – Sin plagues the world we live in, therefore forgiveness is a crucial skill set. "Forgiveness is a crucial skill set in a broken world." Each scripture on forgiveness presents it as an intentional choice. None of the elements are dependent on our circumstances or other people. In other words – "Forgiveness is a choice." Here are seven scriptures on forgiveness:
1. Pray – Matthew 5:44: Lift up your own heart to God, talk to Him about your hurting heart and any difficulty you're facing in offering forgiveness. Ask for help. We are told directly to pray for the offender.
2. Love and do good to the offender – Romans 12:9: Neutrality is not enough here. Instead, we are to offer love sincerely. This is hard stuff. This step usually gets thrown out the window because we don't feel sincere or genuine. Obedience doesn't require feeling like it.
3. Don't speak poorly of the offender – Romans 12:14: As the old adage goes, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Speaking poorly of someone is a great way to get the anger churning, which leads to bitterness and resentment. This is not to say you can't speak to a trusted friend, but the focus would be more about your feelings, responses and struggles rather than tearing someone else down.
4. Release them from your punishment – Romans 12:17-19: Punishment may not apply to an offender who is not in close proximity, however, typically an offense that we're struggling to forgive is in a relationship close to home. And the punishment I'm talking about usually looks like the silent treatment, withholding affection, and keeping the offender at arm's length, etc.
5. Don't celebrate their failures – Proverbs 24:17: This means refrain from gloating, saying, "I told you so" or having a mindset of, "That's what you get."
6. Treat them the way you want to be treated – Luke 6:31: Breathe this one in for a moment. When I mess up I want grace and I want a second chance. Am I willing to offer this to others when I get hurt?
7. Stop dwelling on the past – Isaiah 43:18: So often people say, "But I can't forget what happened". I get that. I wish I could hit delete on a few old hurts and never remember them again. Dwelling is different from remembering. Dwelling literally means a place you live. Do you spend your time turning an old hurt over and over in your mind? Accept that forgetting isn't an option, but dwelling on that old hurt is a choice. Choose to replace those thoughts with new ones. Resolve to stop bringing up the past and focus on today.
Forgiveness is a Clear Command from Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” We are to forgive because God has forgiven us…not for any other reason. Not because the offender apologized, promised to never do it again, or because we feel like it. We've been forgiven much and our call is to forgive much.
In His Amazing Grace,
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