Many of us have studied the subject of forgiveness, or have heard many sermons on the topic. Often we repeat the verses of Matthew 5:23-26; Matthew 6:9-15; or Matthew 21:18-35. What does it really mean to forgive?
To forgive is to turn someone who has offended you over to God. It is trusting God to deal justly with both of you. It means to bestow them willingly as a gift to God. It is not to forgive their sin, only God has the power and the authority to forgive sin!
To forgive is to agree that the best I can gain by not forgiving is revenge and the worst I can create is bitterness. So, I relinquish my position as "god" in the situation by "for-giving-them" over to The Only True God. If they are a brother/sister in Christ, they will be convicted and forgiven, and if they are not they are destined for eternal damnation (something else I cannot do).
When God forgives our sins He removes us from under the guilt and power of sin (shame & condemnation), but He does not always remove the consequences!
A teacher once gave the example of a pregnant teenager that repented of the sin of fornication (sex outside of marriage). When she stood up from her prayer, she was forgiven, but still pregnant. The same is true about sins people commit against us; our forgiving someone (giving them to God) does not remove the consequence of that sin against us.
It does help us with our need to bring it to a resolution; to seek and know we have found justice in God. When we don’t choose to forgive, we replay the sin over and over in our mind fantasizing that we can bring it to a different ending. But it does not work, because we can not create reality with our minds. The closure comes when we take it to God, He takes away the power that sin has over us, and He heals our damaged emotions. ‘’The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." [Psalm 34:18]
Forgiveness is not only giving it to God; it is between you and God! Many times without the knowledge of the other person. "Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge." [Psalm 51:4] God is Holy, (set apart, pure, without sin in thought, motive, or deed) His judgement is pure. Our motives are not always pure; sometimes we ask for forgiveness or forgive in order not to loose more, i.e., relationships, things, appearances, etc. We must allow the Lord to search us and purify our motives.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful
way in me…" [Psalm 139:23&24]
Why must I forgive? It is a command, not a DEMAND! A command is a directive, the Way, His Way to relief and healing. Trusting that God knows what is best because He loves me.
Suggestions for Forgiving:
Ask God to separate your motives and your heart desire. The correct motivation to forgive must be obedience to God. Let God purify your motives.
Ask God to show you The Truth of the situation, your responsibility (repent/confess) vs. their responsibility (action/offense against you.
Identify The Action — Touch the Hurt
Be specific: "I forgive him although I probably provoked him." NO.
"I forgive you." (not specific)
"I forgive Tim for hurting me." (that’s a feeling)
"I forgive Tim for putting me down in front of my friend, and making me feel embarrassed and foolish." Right! Release!
Always forgive from a position of prayer at the foot of the cross.
God works in us to will and do His good pleasure. Go to the Cross. Forgive in light of whatwhackHe did, "Father, forgive them…" [Luke 23:34]
Remember Philippians 4:9:
"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me (Jesus/Paul), practice these things, and the
God of peace shall be with you."