The Art & Challenge of
thoughts to stimulate us in practical forgiving
part of the process of
By putting forgiveness into practice we will understand
better what God has done for us in
Jesus into the situation.
We can always share our problems with God and Jesus in prayer.
He was tempted in all points like us
and He knows the struggles we have - "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men." We
can be truthful with them about how hard it can be to forgive
- and let's be honest - it is difficult!
is a process not an
Be prepared for it to take some time. It might be better to say
"I'm working on it at the
moment." rather than, "Oh, it's all right," when it clearly isn't all right.
try to get an agreed version of the events.
This will always create conflict and tension.
It usually means we want our version agreed.
wait until you get a repentance.
You may have a long
wait! It may never occur! It may not be possible when the person has died or is unknown to us.
Nevertheless we must forgive.
Communication lies at the
heart of forgiving.
One definition of forgiving is "The willingness to communicate when
confronts the facts - it does
not sweep them under the carpet.
This does not mean being vindictive, but to ignore the problem means it
is not being addressed.
is not the same as forgetting.
God has not given us
the ability to forget, so we must develop a strategy to forgive whilst remembering. We can learn
from those memories and can grow closer to God when
we remember what Jesus suffered as well.
Forgiving is what is needed
when all the excuses have finished.
If there is an excuse, then forgiving isn't really necessary. Forgiving
is needed when there is no
excuse - when the injury is compounded by real injustice.
can choose not to dwell on the event(s)
This is the starting point after the initial remembering.
There is plenty of encouragement in
the Bible to "think on these things" to discipline our minds towards better emotions
than resentment (and worse.)
choose not to seek revenge.
Revenge is the opposite of forgiving. If I choose to leave revenge to
God, I am taking the strongest
step I can to move in a positive direction.
future of the
relationship may be changed, and re-trusting may not be appropriate. Retrusting is not the same as
forgiving. To forgive is something within my control, but trust rests partly with the other person, who must
earn trust again, if indeed that
is ever possible.
It is good to see God's
providence in the events.
If we choose to see God's hand at work, then the most awful situations
can be transformed. God has
said he will never leave us or forsake us - and He means it - even when we have suffered grievous
wrong. Accepting God's freely given forgiveness
is part of the process. In knowing ourselves and appreciating what God has done we are strengthened to go
out and forgive others – letting go of pride and self-reliance
forgiving is characterised by Agape love - (charity): "I will provide."
This is the target. This is what we aspire to. God shows his love to the
just and the unjust - to those
who love Him and to those who hate Him. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should
come to a knowledge of the truth-"When we were yet in our sins, Christ died for us." It is
possible, because Jesus did it, ultimately holding
out the promise of eternal life to those who persecuted him. As Paul said,"Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst."
There are some myths about forgiving. They include;
Forgiving is just for God.
It isn't. It is a very necessary ingredient in normal human life as an antidote
to revenge. As Christians - forgiven sinners - we should
be at the forefront
is achieved when you say the words.
Perhaps it is, but it is usually more helpful to think of forgiving as a
not an event.
need only be given after repentance.
How long do you intend to wait? Their repentance is not in your control.
We must address our internal
struggle. To do so is the first step in controlling ourselves in the process of forgiving. It will
sometimes be the case that the other person has died or is not known to us. Even then we need to
forgive, you must be a martyr.
No; forgiveness is a
liberating & healing concept. There is no need to stand there and take unnecessary abuse without
comment. Often it is necessary to say something
and direct the other's attention to the wrong.
Evil is wrong. Even Jesus
commented on that at his trial.
"You must forgive and
It is not given to us by God to forget. We need to forgive whilst remembering.
I have forgotten, I have forgiven.
This may be the case for minor matters, but to bury
serious matters in our mind does not
address the damage that has been done. Many victims, in therapy, need first to
remember the event and only then can they
begin to address the matter, including the question of forgiving.
excuses for someone is the same as forgiving.
No, if there is a simple reason why someone behaved as they did, it may
cause pain, but there was no
evil intended - there was no injustice. We can excuse the person. True forgiving starts when there are
I forgive someone, I must re-trust them.
This is not necessary and confuses forgiving with the need to protect
oneself and those with us. There may be no lasting grudges held
against the other, but there is no
need to allow oneself to be put in the position of repeated abuse.
order to test these ideas you could look at incidents in the lives of these
people to see if you can spot some of the elements listed above:
Joseph and his brothers - From Genesis 50 v 15 – 21.
(Probably the best coherent
description available in Scripture.)
Instructions from Jesus - Matthew 18v 15 – 20.
(Read this as an exercise in forgiving - not
Euodia and Syntche - Philippians 4 v 2 – 9.
(Imagine the quarrel! See the whole passage for the
elements of forgiving.)
Paul & the brother at Corinth -1 Cor 5 + 2 Cor 2 v
David and Saul- From 1Sam chapters 19, 24 & 26.
are some verses to remind ourselves of the love of God in forgiving us through
of what He has done.
Out of the depths I cry to you 0
Lord; 0 Lord hear my prayer.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry
you, 0 Lord, kept a record of sins, 0 Lord who could stand I
But with you there is forgiveness,
therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word I put my hope.
I want you to know that it is in
Jesus that forgiveness is proclaimed to you.
13 v 38
In him we have redemption through
1 v 7
If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and just and will. purify us from all unrighteousness.
John 1 v 9
Be kind and compassionate to one
another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you.
4 v 32
As God's chosen people, holy and
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other
and forgive whatever grievances you
may have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on
which binds them all together in
3 v 12-13.
But we must play our part.
is good for me.
When I learn to forgive I am following the example of Jesus.
I find peace of mind.
It releases me and gives me strength to move forward.
It is essential for my salvation.
It is only when I know the pain involved that I understand what Jesus
and God have done for me.
"It is in pardoning that I am pardoned."
is good for you.
When I forgive you, we begin to communicate again - we understand each
You realise the true effect of your actions.
Hopefully you come closer to God.
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury your pardon Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.
Oh Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace
Where's there's despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness ever joy
Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving of ourselves that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal life
Based on the prayer of St
Francis of Assisi.