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14 ``For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 ``But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."I don't think there is a more penetrating statement in all of scripture! If you don't forgive others, God will not forgive you! Your relationship with God is integrally part of your relationship with others and vice versa.
We are all desperate for it, but we are also confused with what true forgiveness really is. First, it's important to understand what forgiving is not: - Forgiving doesn't mean you must go back or reunite. - Forgiving doesn't mean we tolerate the wrong he did. - Forgiving doesn't mean we want to forget what happened. - Forgiving doesn't mean we excuse the person who did it. - Forgiving doesn't mean we take the edge off the evil done. - Forgiving doesn't mean we surrender our right to justice. - Forgiving doesn't mean invite someone to hurt us again.
Forgiveness involves three primary stages. First, HURT! There is no need for forgiveness without the pain of hurting. Don't try to minimize this stage. It's important to really feel this pain.
Second, HATE! It's like clockwork. You will have some degree of anger over the hurt. There's nothing wrong with this response. It's natural! The problem is not the anger, but not dealing with the anger. If you allow your anger to fester, this natural anger turns into a toxic resentment in your gut.
Third, HEALING! This third stage is the way it's supposed to go-toward some level of healing. This brings us to what forgiveness actually is. It's the final form of love. It's being willing to pay for the offense yourself and not get even with the one who hurt you. When you forgive, you take the pain yourself! Forgiveness is the final form of love. There are five steps in forgiving another person: i. Remind yourself that this person is only human!
ii. Relinquish your right to get even! The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to get (exactly) even. You will either not get back at them enough or you will overdo it. There is just no way to get even!
iii. Be ready to hurt in order to heal! You must take the pain all by yourself! This is the real secret to the dynamic of forgiving someone. You must pay for and not demand that they do!
iv. Wish them well! This could be the best real evidence that forgiveness has taken place. Try praying for them-for their success!
v. You may have to repeat the process! Jesus was asked how many times a person ought to forgive another. His answer was 70 X 7 or 490! By the way, this doesn't mean that at 491, you can go get even with them!
This is all well and good, but what is the primary motivation to forgive anyone-especially your enemy? The answer is FREEDOM! As long as you refuse to forgive, you are in bondage to this person who hurt you! In bondage! You are his/her slave for as long as you don't forgive!
Years after her concentration camp experiences in Nazi Germany, Corrie ten Boom met face to face one of the most cruel and heartless German guards that she had ever contacted. He had humiliated and degraded her and her sister. He had jeered and visually raped them as they stood in the delousing shower. Now he stood before her with his hand outstretched and said, "Will you forgive me?" She writes: "I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I know that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, Jesus, help me! Woodenly, mechanically I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me and I experienced an incredible thing. The current started in my shoulder, raced down into my arms and sprang into our clutched hands. Then this warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. 'I forgive you, brother,' I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God so intensely as I did in that moment!" To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you!