One of the things my wife has struggled with for a long time is how to forgive. Much to both our frustrations, I seem to be able to forgive easily, but haven’t been able to explain to her how I do it. It’s one of those “you just do it” kind of things, which doesn’t help much when you don’t know HOW to do it. Last night, we had a conversation, where it seems we figured out the answer. There are a few factors, so bear with me.
The first factor is understanding your relationship with Jesus. There are many, many churches out there that preach hell-fire and damnation. If you happen to come from that background, you are very likely to get the concept of “Jesus is Lord”, because you’ve heard about the law and the consequences for violating it. Often, people from this background are saved by fear. What they may not be able to identify with is “Jesus is Savior”. By contrast, if you are from one of the many, many churches that preaches about the love of God, you may experience the reverse association.
The reality is that Jesus is Lord AND Savior. He judges AND forgives. He dispenses mercy AND justice. If you don’t know Jesus is Lord, you are likely to have difficulty understanding how He disciplines us. If you don’t know Jesus is Savior, you are likely to have difficulty forgiving yourself or others.
So, I think the first key to being able to forgive, is understanding that Jesus is your Savior. What does this mean? It means that every single thing you ever did wrong, and ever will do wrong, has been paid for. However, you need to understand what the penalty was. Jesus was literally beaten within an inch of his life to pay for it. When that was done, he then had to carry a log on his shoulders through a town. Then he was crucified, the most torturous method of killing a person ever invented. If you’ve watched The Passion of the Christ, you know what I’m talking about. That’s what you deserve. He took that for you. And understand, you only have to do ONE thing wrong to deserve that.
So, how does that help you forgive? Think about what makes you mad. Is it when someone cuts you off in traffic? Is it when someone is mean to you? Perhaps it’s when someone disrespects you. When you think, “I want that person to PAY!” Understand that you are wishing them to go through what Christ went through for you. Understand that you are wishing damnation on them. Or you can forgive them, realizing they may have made an honest mistake, or don’t understand the ramifications of what they’re doing.
How do you forgive? You love Jesus, and you want to see people come close to Him, too. You understand the true consequences, and want to see them in Heaven, instead.