In our Christian walk towards authentic New Testament community we will have to deal with hurtful situations; perhaps one may encounter attacks, be falsely accused of a wrong, presumed guilty by innuendoes, or, perhaps one may run into situations of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly, these attacks may come even from people we trust. When this occurs -and it will! – Christ prepares us to handle the issue of forgiveness towards others. Recently I spoke on the phone with an individual who had went through a church split and held on to unforgiveness towards a group of individuals who were instigators of the church division. He shared how for years he harbored the anger, resentment and bitterness for what they had done and even though they said “I’m sorry” it was somewhat causal on their part, and their actions did not necessarily line up with their words. But he himself was able to forgive them and be free from these inner torments that he had been experiencing. I feel there are so many that have not been able to work through the process of forgiveness or have not completed the process in the correct steps to find the freedom that Christ would have us to experience in him.
Forgiveness is a decision we make by an act of our will, “Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
We must choose to forgive by Faith in Jesus Christ out of obedience. This goes directly against our nature because we want to exact punishment according to the emotional pain we feel. But by faith as we submit to the Holy Spirit he will deal with the sin in our lives and the lives of others.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust, said, “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”
Please Understand I realize all too well how difficult a process this is to work out in our lives. Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.
It’s not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord.
Another issue we must deal with is the sense of injustice that one may go through. When wrong has been committed we must go to the Cross of Christ and realize that I have done the same things to Christ and yet he forgave me. I understand some will come and ask for forgiveness but others will not; this is where we must leave this to Christ to handle knowing all hearts. He is a just God and able to work in a loving way to bring the necessary results that are needed.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
I like what Jim Van Yperen states in “Confession Lessons”
“Forgiveness does not mean that the wrong is forgotten, however, or that the person who wronged you should be trusted, or even that there are no consequences to the wrong. Granting forgiveness to another releases the person to God and to others to work out vindication and justice. Forgiveness is not reconciliation; it is the first step toward reconciliation. For reconciliation to occur confession, restitution and a process of change is required.”
I believe a lot of people miss this principle that forgiveness does not necessarily constitute reconciliation, nor does forgiveness state that there is no consequences for the actions that have happened but simply states: “I release the person to God.”
Christ wants his Church to live free from hurts; how we choose to deal with them will determine our effectiveness for the Kingdom of God.
I have placed a link from Dr. Steve Highlander’s website entitled; “Freedom of Forgiveness” which has an outline that I believe will be beneficial to all seeking to be released from unforgiveness. http://www.c3mministries.com/fof.php