How Do I Forgive Those Who Have Hurt Me
You have decided that you are ready to forgive the person who hurt you, but how when they have cut a wound so deep?
Some situations are easier than others, but some are really difficult. However, here are some steps you can take to help you forgive and process.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mark 11:25 ESV
Let Love Overcome Hatred
Proverbs 10:12 says, Hatred stirs old quarrels, but love overlooks insults.
As we continue to dwell in hate for those who have hurt us, it will be impossible to forgive. The first step to forgiveness is letting go of the hate. Then, we have to ask God to help us love them. Why love?
Love is selfless, and as the verse says, it overlooks insults or offenses. Thus, if you learn to love those you hate, it will be easier to look past their mistakes. It will be easier to forgive them, as a result.
The Purpose We Need To Embrace
Personal examination or a look inside followed by confession of sin is designed to stop sinful behavior, but it really only does so when it draws us to God in such a way that it increases our dependence on Him and His solutions for life and our sin. Confession is never to excuse sin until next time, nor is self-examination to make us aware of ourselves for a better identity. It is to move us toward God and change our character. This is the point of 1 John 1:8-2:2 Ps. 119:59 139:23-24 Prov. 20:27 28:13 and Jer. 17:1f.
Proverbs 28:9, 13-14 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. . . . 13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. 14 How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
Verse 13 says, “he who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” The word “transgression” certainly includes any sinful pattern, and “conceals” includes any of the tactics people use to ignore, justify, or deny sin. One excuse we often hear and we are all perhaps prone to use is: “That’s just the way I am.” The implication is that the weakness, etc., is someone else’s fault and we can’t change because this is problem is a part of our makeup. But God says we can change because He has provided for us in Christ.
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Why Must We Forgive
The best reason to forgive is simple: Jesus commanded us to forgive. We learn from scripture in context to forgiveness that if we don’t forgive, neither will we be forgiven:
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
We also forgive so that our prayers will not be hindered:
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
In summary, we forgive out of obedience to the Lord. It is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we do our part “forgiving,” we discover the command to forgive is in place for our own good, and we receive the reward of our forgiveness, which is spiritual freedom.
Its Our Choice To Accept Gods Gift Of Forgiveness
for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28, ESV
God does not force us to acknowledge or confess our sins, nor to believe in Jesus Christ and the life He came to give us. The covenant of the Old Testament required various sacrifices. The new covenant we live under now is covered by the blood of the spotless lamb, Jesus Christ. The long-awaited Messiah, expected to be a military leader coming to conquer the enemies of Gods chosen people, instead died a brutal death on the cross to save the entire world. The God we meet in Scripture does not hoard his forgiveness like a miser with his money, writes Scott Hubbard, Editor for desiringGod.org, With God, there is forgiveness – and not out of reluctance or necessity, but out of the overflow of his broad heart. We dont have to make sacrifices like the people of the Old Testament times did. But we do need to believe, accept, and confess our sinfulness, on the daily.
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Stop Judging Other People Before You Judge Yourself
You cant control what other people do, but you can control how you react. When someone does something wrong, ask yourself if the action was truly evil and deserving of condemnation, or if it could have been an innocent mistake? If the answer is no , then your judgment will be misguided.
If youre struggling with bitterness towards someone who has hurt you in some way, consider this: when you forgive them for their actions against you, God will forgive your own sins more easily. Its a win-win situation! The Bible says that forgiveness is one of Gods greatest gifts to us.
What Is Forgiveness Not
We have talked about what forgiveness is, so lets take a moment to discuss what it is not.
Forgiveness is not:
- Permitting them to repeat their actions
- Forgetting what they did
- Saying that the relationship has to go back to what it was
Forgiving someone is letting go of their sin, not saying that it was ok. It also doesnt mean that their actions should be without consequences if consequences are warranted.
It just means that you are ready to move on and not dwell on their sin anymore.
Forgiveness does not mean you are allowing them to repeat that sin against you.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Forgiveness doesnt mean you have to forget what they did altogether. Some sins hurt more than others, and it may have a lifelong impact on you. You dont have to forget what they did, but God still calls you to forgive them.
Forgiveness also does not mean that the relationship has to go back to what it was before that sin. In some cases, it may be appropriate and necessary to step back from a relationship that has been damaged by sin.
Doing this does not mean that you are being unforgiving. You can and should still forgive that person, but things dont have to go back to normal.
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Jesus Our Ultimate Example Practiced Forgiveness
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her . Now, I dont know what Jesus was writing in the dirt. Maybe it was a list of the Pharisees sins. What I do know is this: Jesus calls us to examine our own lives first instead of focusing on the actions of another. Its easier to forgive others when we have a understanding of our own shortcomings. Jesus forgives the woman, and lovingly encourages her to change her ways: Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more . Our challenge is to follow Jesuss example and do the same.
We Owe Forgiveness To Others Even When They Dont Ask For It
How often do we blame someone when they have not apologized? When we get hurt, we expect someone to come up to us and say, Im sorry. Yes, that is the right thing to do, however, the Bible does not put that requirement on Gods forgiveness.
God commands us to be the initiators of the transaction. We should go to our brother or sister and talk about it. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is essential to move forward. We can see this in the next word verse:
- If your brother sins against you, go tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won your brother .
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God Does Not Limit How Many Times He Will Forgive Us So We Should Not Limit How Many Times We Will Forgive Others
Then Peter came to Him and asked, Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No, not seven times, Jesus replied, but seventy times seven!
No matter how many times you sin, you can still come back to God, confess and receive His forgiveness. Thankfully, He has infinite patience and will never give up on you, even if you keep doing the same things over and over. He will always be ready to forgive.
If you are a Christian, you should model Gods patient forgiveness and be ready to forgive others over and over again. Sometimes this can be frustrating, but ask God to help you forgive others the way He forgives you.
This does not mean you should stay in an abusive relationship because the abuser always apologizes. Forgiveness does not mean putting yourself in harms way. But its possible to end an unhealthy relationship but be willing to forgive and not hold onto bitterness, no matter how many times that person hurt you.
Pray For A Humble Attitude
If you need to forgive someone else, seek Gods help to maintain the right attitude, watching out for self-righteousness. Remember your own failures. Be careful if you think, Sure I sin, but I would never do what that person did. If you think this, you are assuming that God sees your sins as less serious than that persons. You could be wrong.
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S To True Forgiveness
1. Acknowledge the pain.
Working through pain can only happen once you admit youve been hurt. And acknowledging this can intensify the feelings. Tears, feelings of resentment and ruminating thoughts are a good indicator that somethings wrong. Dont numb yourself or stuff the emotion down, as that cuts off the process of forgiving others before its even begun.
2. Think through things.
Try writing down what happened in a journal, or share with a trusted friend. Admit that what happened makes you feel sad or angry, and be honest about what emotions are rising up in you, even if it epitomizes unforgiveness and you think you shouldnt feel that way.
3. Imagine being on the other side.
Think about a time when you have had to ask for forgiveness how did it make you feel? When have you wronged another person, and did they extend forgiveness to you, or withhold it? The Bible directs us to do to others what we would have them do to us and so it can be helpful to put ourselves in their shoes for a moment.
4. Remember Gods forgiveness
5. Reflect on our Biblical command
Jesus stressed the importance of forgiving others on many occasions and even included it in the Lords prayer, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Pray that this would hit home in your heart and that your decision to obey would force your emotions to catch up.
6. Let go of the hurt.
7. Continue to forgive.
8. Pray for the person who hurt you.
What Does God Say About Forgiveness
God calls us to forgive others as we have been forgiven . The entire Bible is the greatest love story of all time. Everything points to Christ and the cross. We have redemption, the cancellation of our debt of sin through Jesus. Our Heavenly Father calls us to forgive out of the abundance of the forgiveness we received through Christ.
Its important to know that God doesnt call us to do anything He hasnt equipped us to do . He also doesnt call us to do anything He wont ultimately use for our good. Both of those promises are especially meaningful when it cant enters our narrative in the very complex area of forgiveness.
Check out 7 Scriptures on Forgiveness here.
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Realize God Has Forgiven You
In the Bible, more specifically in Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus teaches warns us about the unforgiving servant. Jesus goes as far as to call that servant wicked. I encourage you to read the passage for yourself.
The point is God has forgiven us of our sin and we need to transcend that forgiveness to other people. People often confuse forgiveness for trust, acceptance or condoning behavior and these ideas of forgiveness is far from the Biblical truth of forgiveness. You can forgive someone without being okay with what had happened, you can forgive someone without trusting that person for a long time or ever.
When we keep in mind just how much God has forgiven us, we will be better equipped to forgive others.
When we keep in mind just how much God has forgiven us, we will be better equipped to forgive others.
Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven:
In my opinion, you can only practice true forgiveness after being wronged in such a horrible way as these if you first understand how truly forgiven you are by God. Without first understanding the grace, love, and mercy displayed for us on the cross, we cant possibly understand what debt of our own has been absolved when we deserved it least.
Scripture takes it a step further and actually commands us to forgive as we have been forgiven. We see this principle spoken of throughout Scripture. Ephesians 4:32 says, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Likewise, Colossians 3:13 says, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Matthew 6:14-15 makes an even bolder reason why we should forgive one another: 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. So, Scripture is telling us forgiveness is actually paramount to our own salvation.
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How Can I Forgive Others And Forgive Myself
I profited greatly from research into this question by reading several journal articles on the subject from the work of behavioral health scientists. One noted authority on forgiveness and reconciliation wrote:
The inability to come to terms with ones anger or strife often can lead to stress disorders, mental health disorders, and relationship problems. Forgiveness is a personal decision.
My greatest concern for those who are seeking forgiveness, reading this article, is that, theologically, the final sentence of an otherwise insightful article is, theologically, incomplete. The exception to the idea that forgiveness is merely personal is well-grounded in Scripture.
Indeed, we must insist, from Scripture, that total forgiveness is not, at its root, a personal decision. Forgiveness becomes a decision when the internal operating system of ones soul is transformed, that is, repaired.
Without such a divine transformation authentic forgiveness is incomplete. For the power of forgiveness is applied by the Holy Spirit. The power of forgiveness, then, flows from God to you, then, from you to others, and, mercifully, to yourself.
Read and pray the final phrase of this verse: . . . For the remission of sins.Consider it in its fullness: For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins .
Everett L. Worthington, Jr. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Theory and Application. Routledge, 2013.
Forgiveness Shows Us Gods Power And Mercy And Leads Us To Respect Him In A Deeper Way
LORD, if You kept a record of our sins, who, O LORD, could ever survive? But You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You.
When the Bible talks about fearing God, its not referring to the fear you would have of someone trying to harm you but of the healthy fear that helps you respect and appreciate great power.
For example, if you see a bear at a distance in the wild, you can appreciate its beauty and observe it without being terrified. At the same time, you have the sense to not provoke it because you respect its power.
We need not be terrified of God, but it is important to understand His power and have a healthy fear of and respect for Him. God not only has the power to condemn us all, but He would be totally justified in doing so because we all have sinned.
Even though this is true, He chose not to condemn us but to take our place and pay the penalty for our sins so He can offer us forgiveness. When you understand these things, you can truly appreciate Gods power and mercy.
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