Far too many Christians have fallen for one of the devil’s biggest lies. Have you? Let’s find out by answering the following question: “Are you able to forgive someone who has hurt you or someone you love?” If the answer is “No”, then you have fallen for one of the devil’s biggest lies. The Bible not only tells us that we are able to forgive, but that we should forgive and that it is good to forgive. Today, by the grace of God, we shall learn how we can forgive anyone and everyone.
- Step 1 – Ask God to help you forgive. This is the first and most important step because it is a confession that you are powerless to forgive and completely dependent on God. This is the time to humble yourself and confess your sin. At this time you remember that conflict happens because we are all sinners and that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible because we have a Savior. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive” (Matt 7:7); therefore ask for help to forgive.
- Step 2 – Choose to forgive. Forgiveness is only possible through Christ and you must make an intentional decision to forgive. You choose to not use the incident as a weapon against them and instead choose to focus on Christ and His great love for you. You do not excuse the incident, but leave the bitterness, resentment, and the punishment to the Righteous Judge (Ps 7:11).
- Step 3 – Stop dwelling on the incident. Once you choose to forgive, you determine to stop dwelling on the offense. You refuse to dwell on the offense and instead choose to dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise” (Phil 4:8).
- Step 4 – Seek to overlook the offense. Proverbs 19:11 says it is virtuous “to overlook an offense.” Many times an offense is primarily an attack on your pride and ego and these should produce humility and be overlooked. Here are some questions to help you determine if you can overlook an offense: 1) Are you unable to stop dwelling on the incident? 2) Did the incident damage your relationship? 3) Did the incident hurt others and/or the offender? If you are able to overlook the offense, do so; if you can’t, you must go to this person and pursue reconciliation.
- Step 5 – Pursue Reconciliation. Thus far every step has been between you and God. This step goes further and is an attempt to reconcile a fractured relationship. Jesus provides the steps of reconciliation in Matthew 18 and we will discuss this step further next week.
Who do you have trouble forgiving? Do you love them enough to forgive them? Do you love them enough to pray for them? If not, you need to dwell on Christ’s sacrifice for you and God’s forgiveness of your sin and rebellion against Him. Pray and ask God to help you forgive. Ask someone you respect to help you and hold you accountable.