Remember we get hurt by what others do to us but we also do wrong to others… there is a difference between the way we forgive and seek forgiveness... recognising this difference is critical to how we respond in order to put things right.
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When we have been wronged we are to Forgive:
We are commanded to get rid of all bitterness, grudges and hurt in our lives and not let our hearts be hardened or become bitter by the wrong others have done to us. We are required to forgive others from our heart for how they have treated us just as we have been forgiven (Eph. 4:31, 32). There may be many people who have wronged us and we have harboured the hurt and let it manifest into many kinds of emotional behavours. We may be displaying behavours that are unexplained because we may have even forgotten the primary event. This is why we need to forgive. This is between us and God… Ask God to bring to your mind the people you need to forgive by praying the following prayer out loud:
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the riches of Your kindness, forbearance and patience toward me, knowing that Your kindness has led me to repentance (Rom. 2:4). I confess that I have not shown that same kindness and patience toward those who have hurt me. Instead, I have held on to my anger, bitterness and resentment toward them. Please bring to my mind all the people I need to forgive in order that I may do so now. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
On a separate sheet of paper, list the names of people who come to your mind. At this point don’t question whether you need to forgive them or not. If a name comes to mind, just write it down.
Often we hold things against ourselves, punishing ourselves for wrong choices we’ve made in the past. Write “myself” at the bottom of your list. Forgiving yourself is accepting the truth that God has already forgiven and cleansed you.
Before you begin working through the process of forgiving those on your list, take a few minutes to review what forgiveness is and what it is not.
Forgiveness is not forgetting.
People who want to forget all that was done to them will find they cannot do it. Don’t put off forgiving those who have hurt you, hoping the pain will one day go away. Once you choose to forgive someone, then Christ can come and begin to heal you of your hurts. But the healing cannot begin until you first forgive.
Forgiveness is a choice
…a decision of your will. Since God requires you to forgive, it is something you can do. Sometimes it is very hard to forgive someone because we naturally want revenge for the things we have suffered. Forgiveness seems to go against our sense of what is right and fair. So we hold on to our anger, punishing people over and over again in our minds for the pain they’ve caused us. But we are told by God never to take our own revenge (Rom. 12:19). Let God deal with the person. Let them off your hook because as long as you refuse to forgive someone, you are still hooked to them. You are still chained to your past, bound up in your bitterness. By forgiving, you let the other person off your hook, but they are not off God’s hook. You must trust that God will deal with the person justly and fairly, something you simply cannot do.
You might say, “But you don’t know how much this person hurt me!” You’re right. We don’t, but Jesus does; and He tells you to forgive. And don’t you see? Until you let go of your anger and hatred, the person is still hurting you. You can’t turn back the clock and change the past but you can be free from it. You can stop the pain, but there is only one way to do it — forgive. You forgive others for your sake so you can be free. Forgiveness is mainly a matter of obedience to God. God wants you to be free; there is no other way.
Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin, but you are going to live with those consequences anyway whether you like it or not. The only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly for-gives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair and you may wonder where the justice is in it, but justice is found at the cross, which makes forgiveness legally and morally right. Jesus took the eternal consequences of sin upon Himself. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
How do you forgive from your heart?
You allow God to bring to the surface the painful emotions you feel toward those who’ve hurt you. If your forgiveness doesn’t touch the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete. Too often we’re afraid of the pain so we bury our emotions deep down inside us. Let God bring them to the surface so He can begin to heal those damaged emotions.
Forgiveness is choosing
…not to hold someone’s sin against him or her any more. It is common for bitter people to bring up past issues with those who have hurt them. But we must let go of the past and choose to reject any thought of revenge. This doesn’t mean you must continue to put up with the future sins of others. Don’t allow yourself to be continually abused by others. Take a stand against sin while continuing to exercise grace and forgiveness toward those who hurt you. You may need help in setting wise limits and boundaries to protect yourself from further abuse.
Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving.
You will never get there. Make the hard choice to forgive even if you don’t feel like it. Once you choose to forgive, Satan will have lost his power over you in that area and God’s healing touch will be free to move. Freedom is what you will gain right now, not necessarily an immediate change in feelings.
Don’t say “Lord, please help me to forgive.” He is already helping you and will be with you all the way through the process. Don’t say “Lord, I want to forgive . . .” because that bypasses the hard choice we have to make. Say “Lord, I choose to forgive. . . .”
Now, you are ready to begin. Starting with the first person on your list, make the choice to forgive him or her for every painful memory that comes to your mind. Stay with that individual until you are sure you have dealt with all the remembered pain. Then work your way down the list in the same way.
Lord, I choose to forgive (name the person) for (say what they did to hurt you) even though it made me feel (share the painful feelings).
After you have forgiven each person for all the offenses that came to your mind and after you have honestly expressed how you felt, conclude your forgiveness of that person by praying out loud:
Lord, I release all these people to You, and my right to seek revenge. I choose not to hold an to my bitterness and anger, and I ask You to heal my damaged emotions. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
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Seeking Forgiveness from Others:
When we do the wrong thing to others we will feel guilty, ashamed, afraid, stupid or many other kind of emotions come into play these emotions are a prompt to putting things right. Sometimes pride will prevent this process and will keep the emotions hindering your life sometime feel condemned or trapped.. some resort to distractions or defense mechanisms to hide, like distance dancing, emotional insulation, projection, or some other way and never take responsibility for what wrong has been done and remain stuck. We are not meant to live like this we are to responsibility to live free of condemnation and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged.
When you realise or remember that you have done something wrong to someone, seek their forgiveness but first repent before God… (admit your wrong doing) This means that you can go to the person and say you were wrong in Grace, no excuses or justification for your behaviour…
Steps to seek forgiveness
- Admit to yourself you have wronged another person. As painful as it is, you have to come to …
- Talk to God. Confess your wrong doing and repent. Thank God for forgiving you for what you’ve done and to give you strength to talk to the person you have wronged.
- Go to the person you have wronged. Ask for forgiveness from the person you wronged , remembering not to make any excuses.