We ended part 1 of this study with the following …
There's no getting around what God teaches on the subject of forgiveness but how do we make it happen. Forgiveness is not a light switch that you can turn on and off at will especially when the hurt is deep and or ongoing. And did you notice Matthew 18:35 ... 'if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” "From your heart" ... lip service won't work! So how do we forgive someone 'from the heart' when forgiveness is the last thing we feel?
Hurt, brokenness, shock, disbelief, anger, grief … the feelings just keep flowing. How can one bring themselves to forgive someone who has acted in such a way that shatters their world or maybe it’s a continual mistreatment that has gotten to the point where enough is enough.
With man it is near impossible, but with God all things are possible, and it is to God that we must run if we truly want to forgive from the heart when we’re having trouble forgiving from the heart.
The first thing we must do is acknowledge that we can’t do this on our own. This depth of hurt and emotions doesn’t go away with time or on its own, it only grows and festers. In order to heal properly and forgive as God wants us to, we have to seek the One who set forth this sometimes-difficult command. We can start our seeking by telling God how we feel, by pouring our heart out to Him and by asking Him to help us feel the way He wants us to about said person or persons. That takes courage and determination because the feelings nor desire are possibly there at this point. This is where wanting what God wants is more important to us than what we want at the moment, and Scripture clearly says that God wants us to forgive that person or persons who is or has wreaked havoc in our lives.
Taking this first step is monumental but the battle is not over, in fact it’s just beginning. What do we do with the feelings that are tearing us apart inside? We can saturate ourselves in God’s Word, read it, study it, pray it, listen to biblically sound sermons, and prepare oneself to sing songs of praise to God every time thoughts of the one who has brought the hurt into our lives comes to mind. You will be surprised how over time; these acts will bring you peace.
Thirdly, pray for that person or persons, making sure that we’re not praying prayers of ‘get ‘em God’ but prayers of help for them. A good rule of thumb is to pray the same prayer for yourself as you’ve prayed for them. If you pray, ‘help them see Your truth’ then turn it around and pray for yourself, ‘help me see Your truth.’
Is this method acceptable to God, does this release us from the sin of unforgiveness? In my opinion, it does as long as we are striving, sincerely striving to work through our emotions and feelings. As long as we are striving for what God wants in this situation and are taking steps to get there, then yes, I do believe that the blood of Jesus will cover our imperfect efforts. (Sometimes boundaries have to be put into place to prevent further hurt or abuse, but these types of boundaries don’t necessarily equate to unforgiveness.) Remember, God wants us to forgive from the heart and He knows that sometimes that may take time. As long as we are sincerely trying though, God will be as patient with us as is necessary. Yes, He loves us that much!
What about the offender? Since we cannot control the actions of another person and because each situation is unique, we’re not addressing the offender. The purpose of this series is not about the offender but is about the condition of our hearts before God. Remember, you’re working on your heart, not theirs!
Please note that I am not saying that we shouldn’t follow God’s pattern for dealing with disputes, in fact this series has not been about that at all. I hope you have been able to see that!
May you be blessed by what you’ve read!
(c) 2023 by Patsy Norwood. All Rights Reserved.