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What does it mean to forgive others?
A story about the meaning to forgive others
One of the best things that happened to me, after I was saved, was to attend a Healing Retreat in the UK, in 2011. There, for the first time in my life I learned about God’s desire to heal the brokenhearted. And I was broken— a wreck.
I remember learning about God’s love, about the Holy Spirit and many other fascinating things. But, the hardest thing for me was when I learned about God’s requirement for all of His children to forgive. That was the hardest lesson I had to learn and practice. And to a certain degree it has remained the hardest lesson today.
I asked God to show me all the people I needed to forgive and the things I needed to forgive them for. And, to my surprise He did answer my prayer in seconds. Then, I asked for the help of the Holy Spirit and I did my best in forgiving and releasing the people who had hurt me over the years.
However, coming back home, I realised that my heart was still not fully healed of bitterness and unforgiveness. So, as I have learned from someone else, I sensed I needed to do it again. I prayed and after that I took a piece of paper and wrote down all the names of the people who hurt me and the things they did to me.
Forgive others specifically
It took me quite a few hours to write the list but I sensed I needed to be as specific as I could. Forgiving is similar to repenting— we need to be specific with the sin we repent of. Indeed, this is one of the most important things one can remember about forgiveness: do not pray something like ‘Lord, I choose to forgive all the people who ever hurt me’. It is not working, even though it is better than nothing. But when we forgive we need to bring every situation, memory and person before God and release them to Jesus, one by one. Do not hurry when you do this!
I want to warn you about something. Dealing with issues from your past can be extremely painful. But it is necessary if you want to obey God, forgive the people who have hurt you and receive healing and freedom in your heart. God’s promise to heal the brokenhearted will not apply to you if you do not forgive.
To forgive others can be a process
Often we need to forgive again and again, the same people, for what they did to us in the past. As someone said, forgiveness is in layers, like the layers of an onion. Today, by forgiving you remove only one layer but maybe in two months you realise your heart is not fully healed and you sense you need to do it again. And when you do it, you will remove another layer.
Jesus is our example when we forgive others
Jesus taught us how we need to forgive in Matthew 18:35 (ESV)
So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
When we forgive we need to forgive them from our heart! Of course, it is always about the heart, as unforgiveness, bitterness, and any other sin, in the
No matter how long it will take, follow the path of forgiving the people who have hurt you. Do you remember the words of Jesus on the cross? Luke 23:34 (ESV)
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
Jesus did not say: Father, it is not fair what’s happening. Neither did He complain, fall into self-pity, or cursed the people who crucified Him. No, He forgave! And Jesus is our example!
Some of the lies people believe when they have to forgive others
To forgive does not mean to forget. I know many people believe to forgive means to forget but these are two different words. Moreover, we probably will never forget what happened to us and that it was painful. Do you think Jesus ever forgot He was crucified? No, but still He prayed to the Father for the people who crucified Him. And one cannot pray to God and ask Him to forgive someone if he or she did not first forgive! So, when you forgive it does not mean you will have amnesia. But it does mean you will be healed.
When do you know you have forgiven someone with all of your heart? When you can think of the person or at that specific situation and you do not have butterflies in your stomach anymore. You need to forgive until you are free from all the butterflies in your stomach.
To forgive does not mean I need to trust that person from now on. Trust is something different than forgiveness and trust needs to be earned. Even though, often when people forgive, in time they and slowly they can trust each other again.
One more thing— to forgive does not mean that the people who have hurt me should not be held responsible before the law of the country or before the congregation.
To forgive means to let God be the Judge and not you. You see, when we do not forgive we take God’s place and try to make justice as a judge does. But to forgive is to be obedient to the Lord and for His glory to let God be God!
Forgiveness is a choice. However, unforgiveness is a choice too. Therefore, choose wisely— choose to obey God and forgive. But you will not be able to do it alone, therefore, ask the help of the Holy Spirit!
Make for yourself a forgiveness list and at the top of your list write the names of your parents. This is not to say that your parents were awful because I am sure they did their best they knew in raising you up. By writing their names is to be realistic. They were not the perfect parents as you are not a perfect parent. To forgive others is to extend grace to the people who have hurt you. Then, continue your list by writing the names of your teachers in school, childhood friends, neighbours, relatives, people on the street, etc.
Do you agree?
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