Have you been hurt by someone close to you, a friend, brother, colleague at work or even your spouse? And you are finding it difficult to forgive this person even though you are a Christian and knows as believers we ought to forgive those who hurt us?
Let me show you what you can do that will practically help to forgive and let go of the pains caused you by others.
We live in a world that is filled with so much uncertainties, though this is not how our Father planned it to be, but that is the reality we find ourselves in today.
Our close friends and loved ones often shattering our hearts, betraying our trust and doing things that make us wonder “so this person could hurt me this much and still act like everything is OK.”
While it is true that some persons hurt us accidentally without knowing the gravity of their actions to us, there are also those who actually do so on purpose, taking advantage of our love, trust or care to cause us harm. It is this last set of people that are often the most difficult to forgive.
So what do we do when we are hurt by the people we least expect and we are having a hard time forgiving them?
First, I am going to take my time to debunk some popular myths surrounding forgiveness that has limited so many people today.
1: If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you
This popular belief gotten from scriptures not properly explained, tries to make you the initiator of forgiveness while God only responds to your actions.
It puts you in the position where God only forgives you after you have forgiven those who hurt you.
While it is true that this notion was gotten from the Bible, it is also true that this on its own should never be used as a doctrine for the church today. Why?
The reason is because apart from the Gospels (Matthew and Mark to be specific) no other writer of the books of the Bible ever presented God this way, even in the Old Testament. God is always presented as the initiator of forgiveness.
Psalms 103:2-3 & verse 12 put it this way:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
The Epistles put it this way:
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of his grace.” Eph.1:7 KJV
We have forgiveness now according to riches of his grace, not according to how we have forgiven others.
Again in Ephesians:
“And be ye kind to one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Eph.4:32 KJV
Here we are asked to forgive others in the same way God forgave us. Not forgive so God will forgive us. Colossians reiterated this.
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Col.3:13 KJV
Again, here the motivation is to forgive others because you have been forgiven already not so as to be forgiven.
If that is true, why did Jesus make the statement in the first place, telling the Jews to forgive so as to be forgiven by God?
The answer lies in the audience. Jesus was speaking to the people of his day who were under the Law. He wasn’t giving them the presentation of the God of grace there, he was actually amplifying the Law of “do good get good” the Jews already had.
He had to stretch the Law of works the Jews were cleaving to in order to bring them to the end of themselves where they can reason, “how on earth am I ever going to be forgiven by God, if He will have to depend on how I forgive others before forgiving me? Including who are no longer within my reach so I can tell them I’ve forgiven them and even those I’ve forgotten about.”
Jesus amplified the Law for them to see how impossible it is for a human to achieve, merit or receive forgiveness based on his own efforts and then completely trust in God’s amazing grace for forgiveness. He was giving them a new Law or doctrine. (See Romans 3:19)
2: Since I am already forgiven, I need not forgive others
This notion is peddled by those who carelessly lift scriptures out of context, thereby misleading themselves and others.
In almost every book of the Bible where you are told of the eternal forgiveness you have in Christ, you are also instructed to “forgive others”, “walk in love”, “be tenderhearted towards others” and much more.
Because just as little children, we ought to initiate our heavenly Father who has taken the first step in forgiving us our own trespasses.
3: Forgive and forget
You have probably heard on or two people use this phrase before to beat people into pretending like they weren’t hurt and have forgotten what happened when in the real sense they still remember it.
Forgiving someone of their offence against you is not the same as forgetting it. While you can deliberately choose to let go of the pains caused you by others, forgetting it takes a little bit of time.
So if you are struggling to forget what someone did to you, quit the struggle and allow time take its due cause on your heart.
Haven seen all these, let’s go back to answering the first question “what do you do when you find it difficult to forgive someone?”
i. Feed Your Mind On How Much You Have Been Forgiven By God
Understanding that God has forgiven you your entire sins in life is very very important when it comes to you forgiving others.
A man who has not received the truth that his won sins have been completely forgiven by God will always struggle to forgive others.
Before you even committed your first, the very first one, God in His infinite knowledge knew you would. His knowledge of it does not mean He approved your doing of it, no not all. He hates sin and has no part in it.
But before you ever did it, He made a provision for a scapegoat on whom He will lay the punishment – His own Son, Jesus. Thereby freeing and declaring you justified (just as if you never sinned)
This is why one of the greatest names that revealed God’s true character in the Old Testament is the name, Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14). Jehovah Jireh here does not just mean our great provider alone like we have always believed. It actually means the one who sees ahead of time and provides.
He saw ahead of humanity’s need for a Saviour as a result of sin and provided His own Son, forgiving us of all trespasses – before any of ever sinned, confessed and pleaded with Him for mercy.
You need to understand and meditate on this so well it takes over your entire being.
ii. Pray, Expressing Your True Feelings Over The Issue And The Person To God
Where God is, you don’t have to put on a clothe before receiving a hug from Him. You can come stark Unclad and He will welcome you with open arms.
What that means is that with God, you have nothing to be ashamed of or hide. You can show Him your wounds, even the ones eyes can’t see and tell Him where it hurts you the most.
No matter concerning you is too small or too big to gain His attention. He does not consider one case very serious and another less serious when it comes to you.
You are so special to Him that whatever grieves you is of utmost importance to Him. The same attention He’ll give you when people hurt you with a pin is the same He will give you when hit you with a truck.
So feel free to express how you feel about a person and issues to Him, trusting Him to lift the burden off your shoulders.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the God of peace, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 KJV
The moment you have expressed your true feelings towards the offender to God, the Holy Spirit takes over your heart, overwhelming you with peace – the kind that passes all understandings.
It is from this peace that the God’s kind of forgiveness which you already have on the inside of you will be able to flow out towards the offender, effortlessly.
I call you blessed. Glory to God!