Forgiving someone isn’t easy. Believe me, I know from personal experience! But I also know it is possible. With promises found in scriptures like Philippians 4:13 and Romans 12:21, we can do whatever we need to do with God’s power.
Many of you know that my father sexually abused me from the time I was about three years old until I was 18. I left home as soon as I could and carried bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart for years.
But over time, as I studied God’s Word, He began to reveal some key truths about forgiveness.
For example, many people think that forgiveness only benefits the other person—the person who hurt you—when, actually, the main beneficiary is you. You see, as you release your bitterness and anger, you are able to live with real peace and joy.
Another reason people choose not to forgive is because they think it’s too hard. Well, that’s a lie too! Here are four steps you can take to genuinely forgive:
1. Make a Quality Decision
Forgiveness is about more than saying a prayer, like, “Lord, I forgive so-and-so.” It is a serious decision that you make over and over again. It will probably be uncomfortable or even painful, but going through this process will always be worth it in the end.
2. Depend on God
Fortunately, God gives us the strength to forgive. We can live with a prayerful mindset and attitude: “Lord, help me not to be offended today. Keep me from unnecessary anger. If I am mad at someone, show me who it is. Give me the grace to forgive them.” (See Ephesians 4:32.)
If you’re easily offended or there’s a person in your life who just annoys you, not only do you have to decide to forgive and live in peace, but you are going to have to depend on God for the grace to do it and make it a matter of prayer.
3. Understand Your Emotions
One definition of emotion is to "move out." Emotions provoke psychological changes that give us a desire to do something.
For example, when somebody hurts you and you feel pain, the first thing you may want to do is tell them off. You may want to get back at them or just get away from them. But you don’t have to make that choice.
Remember, your will gives you the ability to live beyond your feelings! Given time, your emotions will catch up with your decision to forgive.
4. Pray for Your Enemies
In Matthew 5:44, Jesus commands us... Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
This may be the hardest teaching to follow, but we can be assured that it’s ultimately for our benefit.
Years ago, I learned that someone who did business with our ministry was saying unkind things about me. I wanted to tell the guy off, but then God told me to buy him a gift and thank him for all his years of service!
Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. But once I got into agreement with God and put some action behind it, I became filled with so much joy I actually laughed out loud.
The Choice Is Yours
Today, you have the choice to overcome evil with good. You can arrive at a new level of joy as you take meaningful actions to forgive. I want to encourage you to do yourself a favor and make the right choice. Forgive.