Forgiving those who’ve hurt us is hard work. Use these 5 steps to extend grace and mercy to those who’ve done you wrong.
You can’t give something you don’t have. The first step to forgiving others is experiencing God’s forgiveness yourself.
If you skipped 4 A’s of Repentance, you need to go back and do that first. If you are following your prayer guide, this order is built into the process. We are using the Lord’s Prayer as our example. In it, Jesus says, “Forgive us our debts” before He says, “as we forgive our debtors”.
Receiving and extending forgiveness are so intricately entwined they cannot be separated. Check out the very next words of Jesus after He finishes teaching the disciples the Lord’s Prayer.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
~ Matthew 6:14-15
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#forgive”]Receiving and extending forgiveness are so intricately entwined they cannot be separated.[/tweetthis]
So, forgiving and being forgiven are two sides of the same coin. We can’t do one without the other. God’s grace is meant to flow through us so completely that we can’t help but overflow and splash His grace all over everyone around us. Every person we interact with should be sitting in the “Splash Zone” of mercy and grace pouring from us. If that’s not true of us, then maybe we aren’t fully appreciating the debts Jesus has paid for us.
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’
~ John 7:38
[tweetthis]God’s grace is meant to flow through us so we can’t help but splash His grace all over people.[/tweetthis]
You may find this surprising or distasteful, but the responsibility to initiate reconciliation is on you whether you are the offender or the one offended. Read this verse carefully.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
~ Mark 11:25
Notice this verse doesn’t say anything about waiting for the person who wronged you to admit their mistake, correct their wrong, or even say they’re sorry. It just says that when you remember you’re holding a grudge against someone, let it go.
Like when you realize you’ve been holding your breath without meaning to, just exhale the toxins building inside of you and breathe in the fresh air of God’s grace.
[tweetthis]Exhale the toxin of bitterness building inside of you and breathe in the fresh air of God’s grace.[/tweetthis]
Let go of your “right” to be angry. Relaxed your fists that are clenched around your own bitterness so you can be free.
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you.
~ Hebrews 12:15b
Many are familiar with Ephesians 4:26, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Some people take this literally and will not sleep until they work through an argument with their spouse. There is a time when that is appropriate. If only all issues could be worked out in a single day!
Sometimes, we are able to think more clearly and with less drama if we sleep on it and start again fresh the next day. The point of the verse is that it’s not healthy (relationally, physically, or spiritually) to hold on to anger any longer than is necessary. The exact timing of the sunset is irrelevant.
Anger itself is an important emotion that tells us something is wrong, but if we let it get out of hand or control us, then we are moving into the danger zone. The first half of Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to allow anger to push us over the line into sin.
Forgiveness is the door to freedom. God’s Truth will set you free. Get God’s perspective on your pain, the situation, and the other person. Our assessments are skewed by our own biases.
Only God’s assessment is the Truth that can free you. He sees the hurt the other person is carrying. We are often only aware of our own. Let Him share His compassion with you for the person you are struggling to forgive.
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#forgive”]Forgiveness is the door to freedom. God’s Truth will set you free.[/tweetthis]
Relinquish negative thoughts and emotions that are destructive and eat you up from the inside out. Drop your desire for revenge. God sees everything and He will set all things right in the end. Allow him to do that for you. Remember David and King Saul? David refused to kill the guy who was trying to kill him, even when the opportunity was thrown in his lap. He bravely left his situation for God to sort out and judge. (If you’re not familiar with this story, read 1 Samuel 24. It’s a short read and an entertaining and insightful narrative.)
See also: Finding Freedom in Forgiveness
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. . . “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! . . . Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
~ Luke 6:27-28, 32, 35-36
As Will Bowen says, “Hurt people hurt people.” Often the people who cause others pain in life have unhealed hurts and unresolved pain in their own life. Jesus knows their pain as intimately as He knows ours. Allow Him to soften your heart with His compassion.
Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11
Inciting bitterness against each other is a tactic of the devil. Let’s not play along with his schemes by holding on to bitterness. Don’t be fooled. He’s trying to outwit us and keep us fighting against each other so we don’t fight back against him.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
~ Ephesians 6:11-12, NLT
People are never our real enemies; the devil and his demons are who we should be resisting. WeI have an enemy, but it’s not any person.
See Also: You Want Me to Love Who?
Sometimes forgiveness must be accomplished in layers. There have been plenty of times where I thought I had forgiven a person and moved on, but then something triggers the pain to resurface and I need to forgive again. Sometimes new information about an old event is learned and I realize there is more to forgive. I need to forgive at a deeper level.
Sometimes new information about an old event is learned and I realize there is more to forgive. I need to forgive at a deeper level.
Other times, the same person repeatedly hurts me in the same way. In times like these, it helps to remember how often we fail when we are trying to overcome our own faults. We don’t have the same snares, so what’s easy for one of us to get right can be very difficult for someone else, and vice versa.
Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.
~ Luke 17:3-4 (MSG)
But wait, there’s more! See all the free printables to add to your prayer guide here.
Elizabeth is a military spouse, veteran, and mother of eight. Above and beyond caring for her family, her mission is to offer words that sustain the weary and equip people to live a life of faith filled with purpose.
Learn more at elizmeyers.com.