As Christians we know that God calls us to forgive. We can know verse after verse about the importance of forgiving our brother or even our enemy. But knowing and doing are two very different things. John 13:17 says "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them". Forgiveness takes action on our part and sometimes we have to forgive someone multiple times for a single offense until we've completely released it. James MacDonald defines forgiveness as "the decision to release a person from the obligation that resulted when they injured you".
Forgiveness is a decision. It's not based on our emotions or severity of the offense against us. It's a choice that we make because we have been forgiven. At times it's a very difficult choice. We may feel that if we forgive someone then we're letting them off the hook. However, forgiveness is not about the other person. It's about us. It's about our relationship with Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. When we grasp what Christ has forgiven us of then we can't help but forgive others.
James MacDonald compares forgiveness to a funeral. "When you attend a funeral, you grieve and then you leave. When it comes to forgiveness, grieving is the moment described by Jesus in Mark 11:25 when you are standing before God and certain painful situations or certain people's names and faces begin to fill your thoughts." When those situations are brought to mind, the truly forgiven cannot bear the turmoil or pain and must forgive.
Our small group has just begun a 6 week study by James MacDonald on the process of forgiveness and the detrimental effects of unforgiveness. "Unforgiveness is a punisher. But it doesn't punish the person who sinned; unforgiveness punishes the person who was sinned against." The challenge for this first week is to make a choice to forgive everyone who has ever done anything to hurt us. We do this by taking the time to compile two lists. List one is People I Need to Forgive and list two is People I Can't Forgive. This first step is just opening the door to choosing to saying "I will forgiv.
I challenge you to take some time this week and compile your own lists. Take that first step towards the freedom of true forgiveness.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.