How Do You Forgive?

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.

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3 Responses to “How Do You Forgive?”

  1. Beth Seif Says:

    Your whole perspective on this is biblically correct and beautifully worded. The only thing I disagree with is the immediate assumption that not forgiving someone is synonymous with wishing them to end up in Hell. I might not forgive you…. I might not like you….. I might me as a hornet at you (all unbiblical of course) but telling you to “go to Hell” or even wishing it or thinking are FAR cries from those emotions. In any case,….because we are human, when someone “does us wrong” forgiveness can be very difficult and I’ve been where your wife is more times than I can count. And what makes it even more difficult is the situation in which the person has not even asked for your forgiveness. I’ve always envisioned approaching someone and saying “I forgive you for what you did” and having them look at me with all arrogance and self-righteousness and say “Who the @#!$!#@$ asked for your forgiveness????” which makes things even harder for you, the forgiver. It’s complicated, but human. When you speak of the love of God and His grace and mercy and justice, you are suggesting that we are easily capable of such response. Should we strive toward Christlikeness? Every day of our lives. Absolutely. Do we always make it? Hardly. One of the best “human” rather than “biblical” explanations that has helped me to forgive someone whom I never thought I would forgive was this: Being bitter towards someone or not forgiving them is like letting them live in your brain, rent free.” I liked that. I got it. And it helped get me on the right path toward the far better resolution which is the one you so aptly described.

  2. WingedPanther Says:

    I don’t think we intend for people to pay the full price for their sins, we just want them to pay “a little”. We tend to forget what the true price of our sins is, and wish for justice a bit too casually, without thinking about what we’re wishing for.

    You’re absolutely correct that unforgiveness often does far more harm to ourselves than the object of that unforgiveness. I had to learn how to forgive a person who was already dead. I had to learn how to forgive another person I wasn’t even on speaking terms with. The trickiest is learning to forgive someone when you don’t even realize you haven’t fully forgiven them. It’s far from easy.

    The reward for forgiveness is also great: peace. I love being at peace with my relationships with other people. I still sometimes have to set boundaries in those relationships but they’re based on the present and future of the relationship, not the past.

  3. bethygirl Says:

    Thought you’d like the nick as I registered for WordPress. Anyway…. re your blog…..
    Beautifully said! I well remember your struggle regarding the person who is now deceased…. and I can even empathize because I’m still working on some of that in a situation from my past with someone who is deceased…. perhaps.a story for another time in a less public arena, Either way, there is no peace where there is strife and there is always strife in one’s own heart and mind if there’s no forgiveness. We are agreed 🙂

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