Part 2 of 3-Part Series
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18: 21-22). Wow, that’s a heavy burden. From our human perspective, it just doesn’t seem fair, does it? Someone sins against you 77 times, and Jesus tells you to forgive them every time. On the surface it might seem unreasonable, yet when Jesus commands this, He’s looking out for YOUR best interest.
Forgiveness: It’s Your Gift
When you deeply explore the “why” behind Matthew 18: 21-22, you’ll come to realize the benefit isn’t for the person receiving forgiveness but for you. Forgiveness doesn’t help the sinner, instead it helps the one who was sinned against. When you hold onto the pain, it only hurts you. Jesus wants you to be free from the hurt and pain, so he is commanding you to forgive as many times as is necessary so that you can be set free.
Why Forgive? We forgive to be MOST like Jesus. His last and most important human act was to be the sacrificial lamb and take our sin when we stand before God in judgment. Forgiveness can be challenging, and especially when those who’ve sinned against us won’t even ask for forgiveness. How can we more easily forgive and set ourselves free of our hurt?
Forgiveness is not dependent in any way on another person. You are 100% in control. Forgiveness is not predicated on whether someone asks for forgiveness. Your forgiveness is simply a choice that releases your pain—an intentional surrender to your own negative emotions and hurt.
Setting the Stage for Forgiveness: Your Belief System
Forgiveness comes more easily when you believe the 4 following truths:
- You are 100% responsible for what you think, say, and do. When you make excuses, blame, and criticize, what you’re saying is there’s something better that you’re not willing to go after. That “better” may be forgiveness.
- Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and not the other person. Are there times you tell someone you forgive them, but you still feel hurt. Why? Because forgiveness is not something that you give someone, it’s something you give yourself.
- Forgiveness sets you free. Give yourself permission to let it go, because it doesn’t serve you a useful purpose.
- Forgiveness allows you to get closer to God. When you’re obedient to God’s commands, you are drawn closer to Him. You achieve a higher spiritual position than before.
Steps to Forgive Those Who Hurt You
Step 1: Align your belief system with the 4 mindset principles. Have the right mindset toward forgiveness.
Step 2: Ask God to help you maintain a forgiving mindset
Step 3: Confess your sin of unforgiveness up until that point. Yes, you are a sinner of unforgiveness.
Step 4: Speak aloud your forgiveness of the person by specifically naming the behavior, and then speak blessings over the other person who has sinned against you.
Step 5: Remind yourself that this is a journey and give yourself a pat-on-the-back that you’re moving in a positive direction
Establish Healthy Personal Boundaries
Honoring God with a spirit of forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to continually expose ourselves to negative people and situations and a cycle of repeated forgiveness. Neither are we to shelter. We are to be in the world sharing the Gospel, and when we do, we will be exposed to those who will hurt us. Consider establishing healthy personal boundaries that help to safeguard you physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that you have the mind and spirit to bring Kingdom to earth.
Scriptures to Pray On
- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (Mark 11:25)
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
- For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)
- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37)
- Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to sever times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and ministry. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at email@example.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com