Blog: Forgiveness is a process

 

Forgiveness is a process

Posted in: Forgiveness | By: Dean Smith
November 8, 2011

Lately, as I’ve been speaking to churches, groups, and individuals about forgiveness, there’s one topic  that seems to be especially grabbing their attention: Forgiveness is a process.

Go figure! A person cannot simply and fully forgive "everyone for everything", and then happily sit in their rocking chair on the front porch while drinking iced tea as if nothing ever happened. I guess the question is, “How do you know you’ve truly forgiven someone?”  Here are some of the answers I’ve received in the past:

·         When you don’t think about getting revenge anymore.
·         When you’re not mad anymore.
·         When you can be in the same room.
·         When you can be nice to them.

What do you think?
We know the bible tells us to forgive, but when do we know we’ve actually done it?

Jesus says it this way, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV) Jesus is saying that your forgiveness isn’t done when you’re not angry anymore. Surrendering to God and allowing Him to heal you of your anger is a fabulously great beginning in the forgiveness process, but still, it's just the beginning.  Real forgiveness will result in real love. Real love is active and will find ways to be a blessing when extended in appropriate ways.  When Jesus shares the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), He shows us how God not only forgives us (to the point of not being angry) but how He completely restores us and blesses us.

We are not only commanded to forgive, we are commanded to love. The coolest thing about this is that God will give us the strength and ability to do both! The greatest blessings and testimonies from my own life have come because I've surrendered my anger and resentment to God, and allowed His love to move both in me and through me. This has enabled me to truly bless the very people who initially had offended me.
Because God’s love for us never seizes and never diminishes, our forgiveness and the process that transforms it into love should never stop either. Please know that by allowing God to help you love your “enemy”, it may very well lead you to some of the most profound blessings, not to mention the greatest testimonies you can one day share, as well.

Lastly, always remember that when you love someone, the key is to love them appropriately. Love looks different based on the relationship, the sin against you, the level of repentance the other person shows, and the unique circumstances at hand. Appropriately loving someone may mean simply praying for them, while other times it may mean connecting with them in writing, in person, or by voice. It’s critical to be lead, so listen to God during this part of the process. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, and be sure to listen to that small, still voice inside of you, in determining the appropriate way to love someone whom you are in the process of forgiving.

*To learn more about the in-depth, step-by-step process of forgiveness, and beginning your own personal journey to freedom and being yoke-free, look for the Live to Forgive Bible Study, coming soon! E-mail Dean if you would like to be added to the waiting list for this bondage-breaking system of forgiveness, which will help you to set yourself free and deliver you of the burden of unforgiveness.

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