One of the greatest universally therapeutic principles from the Bible, when applied, is the truth about forgiveness.
“Be king and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
For followers of Christ, the foundation stone on which we stand, which enables us so to forgive someone, is the TRUTH found in this verse: “just as in Christ, God forgave you.” When you are tempted not to forgive someone, think about how Christ has and does forgive you! Through the crucifixion and resurrection, Christ destroyed the evidence against us!
Many people are prisoners to one or two or three experiences from their past. A tiny seed of bitterness turns into a forest of unforgiveness and what so many people fail to realize is that their unforgiveness doesn’t hurt the person who hurt them; it simply compounds the pain in their own hearts. We think that our unforgiveness will somehow cage the person who hurt us, but it only cages us.
Who do you need to forgive?
By definition, it won’t be someone who deserves it. It wouldn’t be grace if they deserved it. But if you have the courage to forgive them, it will set you free and you will recondition your heart in the process.
The concept and definition of forgiveness— “release” is found in the “scapegoat” practice of the Levitical priesthood.
21 He (the priest) will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins (release) to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. – Leviticus 16:21 NLT
Below are truisms and principles about forgiveness. As you read through them, think of how you and the Holy Spirit will activate them into your relationships and encounters with others. Please think about other pithy statements which capture the essence of forgiveness. One definition of forgiveness, which I like is: “To release someone for their sin against you or another person you love.”
• Forgiveness is not forgetting •Forgiveness is remembering without an emotional pull back to vindictive anger, jealousy, rage, or bitterness. • Forgiveness means to release someone of their sin against you •Forgiveness does not depend on whether another confesses their sin.
• Forgiveness does not mean to immediately trust someone •Trust can be rebuilt, but it takes righteous actions demonstrated over a period of time. • In most cases, time without good behaviors only cements the wrong, deepening bitterness that becomes ingrained in our inner spirit.
• One can forgive someone yet still expect justice to be served. • Justice and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive.
• Forgiveness deals with our emotional response toward an offender.
• Forgiving a person is clearing his or her record with us and transferring the responsibility for any punishment to God, especially when justice within the courts is not meted out.
• Forgiveness is a choice, a decision of your will. • Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. • Forgive others for your sake so that you can be free.
• Do not wait for the other person to ask you for forgiveness. • Do not wait until you feel like forgiving.
• Sometimes when forgiveness is not extended the people who are offended transfer their bitterness to their kids, friends, and associates. Remembering hurtful things comes more natural to people than remembering good things done to them. Therefore, forgiveness is one of the most powerful antidotes to halting the destruction of relationships in the present and in the future. The sin of unforgiveness resulting in bitterness can prove to be worse than the original sin because it is passed on from generation to generation.
Putting Truth into Practice
#1 Choose and explain one to three statements above which mean the most to you. Why do they mean so much to you?
#2 Memorize Ephesians 4:32
#3 Pray out loud to the Lord God and say something like this, “Lord Jesus Christ I forgive ________________, and release ____________ for the wrong that ___________ did against me. I forgive him/her as You, Jesus Christ, have forgiven me.
Is there any person that you need to forgive?