It’s one of the things in life that is a lot easier said than done. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things we may ever have to do. Its opposite, unforgiveness, appears to be a lot easier but certainly takes a lot from us- especially in the absence of an apology.
How do we forgive practically? As always, we look at our perfect, life mentor, Jesus.
While we were deep in sin, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
He forgave in advance. Before the recognition of our immense flaws, before our response to the altar call, before the apology, Christ died for me. Pause and think on that for just a moment. Before I could even say “sor…”, He said “I forgive you” and he coupled that statement with action. He didn’t just say it, He showed it.
He died literally and figuratively. He died for our sins and died to them- that’s real forgiveness. We too must die and become irresponsive, not to others, but to the actions of those who have wronged us. Dead. It mustn’t wake me up to anger or bitterness any longer. Make up your mind that unforgiveness will no longer bully you.
Pray and move out of the way.
It goes without saying that we can’t do this alone. We must pray to our Lord and example if we want to receive the same grace and ability that He had.
And it’s interesting to note that Jesus, whilst dying on the Cross, didn’t ask God the Father to help him forgive those who were killing him. He asked God Himself to forgive them. He moved out of the way. That served as a reminder that the battle wasn’t His. It symbolised a handing over of the situation, His emotions and everything that was going on to God. If God has forgiven someone, it’ll be much harder for me, dare I say nonsense, to hold that grudge.
It takes a bucket-load of humility and genuine love to plead with God for the forgiveness of someone who has wronged you (we usually pray for their downfall, judgement and all that bad stuff) but Christ’s love compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14); love wins.
So Christ took himself out of the picture.
I’ve honestly found that when I’ve been hurt, if I can just take myself out of the picture and choose not to focus merely on how I’ve been wronged, I declutter and create less room for throwing a pity party, growing resentment, hatred and bitterness. I personally become more merciful, more easily.
It’s that humility- not thinking less of yourself (Jesus fully knew who He was on that cross- fully God.. the One who could destroy all of his persecutors in a second), but rather, thinking of yourself less (Christ’s perspective wasn’t on who He was. Jesus looked outwardly and not inwardly- it was then that He was able to pity them and be compassionate enough to pray for them).
“If my people… can humble themselves and pray…”
(2 Corinthians 7:14)
It takes humility to pray.
I know, I know. It’s not that simple. In fact, forgiveness is so very hard… but we must. Sister, we must.
Unforgiveness is too expensive. You can’t afford it; it will cost you much more than you realise.
We say we don’t want this pain anymore but really we do. Sounds crazy, but the real sacrifice is giving up our pain. You say “of course I don’t want to be hurt anymore”, but every time we choose not to forgive, we say “I actually enjoy holding on to this hurt more than I realise”.
Forgiveness might appear to cost you a lot; your rep, your right to be angry etc… but it’s too little of a price not to pay. It’s like that sale item that wasn’t in your original budget (you didn’t plan to meet such a situation) but you can’t afford to miss it either.
If we’ve truly chosen Christ, we’re going to have to wear some big girl pants… often (so you might as well stock up now).
Joyce Meyer said “We’ll never forgive if we wait till we feel like it”.
It’s so true. That time will probably never come. Make the decision and let your feelings catch up with that. And it’s a sad reality that the ones we hold dearest have the ability (not victory) to hurt us the most. Notwithstanding, that should never stop us from making deep, intimate and vulnerable relationships- we were made for them.
Forgiving first doesn’t consider whether the apology comes or not because you’re not waiting on the apology or the person to validate your emotions or how you feel and act towards them. Save yourself the 70 x 7 and just roll it into 1- forgive in advance; forgive first.
To that guy that broke your heart, that uncle or father that you trusted so much, that best friend that betrayed your trust, choose to say “I forgive you”.
And to everyone that may hurt me later,
“It’s okay, I forgive you in advance.”
I have strong faith that today, you are completely free from the hold of unforgiveness, in Jesus’ able name.