Written by: Brad Williams
Imagine taking a long journey through a treacherous land down paths you had never been before. The sun beats down at times and the wind and temperature change daily. There are valleys to traverse, rivers to cross, and mountains to climb.
Now, imagine taking that trip with a hundred pounds of dead weight on your back. It obviously would make this trip much tougher. If you had a choice, you would certainly get rid of this unnecessary weight. It seems like an easy decision, yet many people choose to carry unnecessary burdens through similar journeys in life on a daily basis.
How is this possible? We’ve all been wounded by events in our lives. What happens to us is not the problem. How we respond, however, can become a problem. When someone hurts us, it causes us pain.
What we do with that pain and the potential resentment towards the other person now becomes a crucial choice that we have to make. We have an opportunity to forgive or not.
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is a choice – one that we freely make. Choosing to forgive is motivated out of love, not out of guilt. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves.
When we hold unforgiveness towards others, it hurts us a lot more than it does them, regardless of what we tell ourselves. When we choose to forgive, we are shedding unnecessary weight from our backs so that we can experience a greater journey through life.
Forgiveness opens doors in relationships that resentment and bitterness have slammed shut years ago. Forgiveness allows rivers of communication to once again flow freely. Forgiveness is more than just saying sorry. Forgiveness is a process and one that takes God’s grace and our willingness to get started.
Three Steps to Accomplish Forgiveness
1) First, we need to give up our right for revenge.
We have God-given rights and human rights. It is a human right or response to want to take revenge on someone who has wounded us. When people hurt us, we want to hurt them back. Now, we don’t always respond that way, but because of our makeup there is a potential to want to seek revenge. By choosing not to take revenge, we choose to take the first step towards forgiveness.
2) The next step involves our choice to pray for the person who has hurt or offended us.
This prayer must be motivated out of love. Prayers that ask God to punish another person who hurt us are still motivated out of our own hurt. Once we have received God’s grace for our situation and our perspective, we can begin to operate in His love. When we can pray blessings over someone who hurt us, we are showing true love. “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).
3) The last step in forgiveness usually takes the longest time, and it is a step that can only truly be accomplished with God’s help.
We know we have achieved forgiveness when we have rediscovered the other person for who they are, instead of by what they have done to us. If you were abused when you were younger and have not fully forgiven that person, it may be because whenever you see or think of that person, you see the pain they caused you in the past. With God’s grace, you can learn to pray for that person, allowing God’s love to flow through you.
God’s love has everything you need to change your perspective about another person if you fully receive it. God’s love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:6-8). God’s love can help you to rediscover anyone who has hurt or offended you. When you can see another person the same way God sees them, as a precious life that needs healing, God’s truth, and love, then you know that you have forgiven this person.