How to forgive even when you don't feel like it.
Here we are at Christmas time, we get to see people we don’t see often. We are surrounded by friends and family and to some that sounds amazing! To some others it can be hurtful. It can bring up old feelings of hurt and pain. So how should we handle this? Well, for me, I realized that how I have handled it in the past has not set me free yet from the pain and mulling it over and over in my head. So I started to research “how to forgive”. Honestly, I’m still learning but here’s what I have gleaned from the bible and my research so far….
Forgiveness can come when you see that:
#1 God is Kind.
#2 You and I have sinned too throughout the years and God has still forgiven us.
#3 Jesus was betrayed by people too yet He set the example of forgiving them.
#4 We are so loved by God and so is the person who hurt you. God loves that person as much as he loves you.
Okay so sometimes it hurts to even think about forgiving someone or a situation. Even just the four points above could hurt if you’re not seeking to forgive. But unforgiveness will lead to bitterness. In Hebrews 12:15 it says that bitterness will cause you trouble! It also says it will cause even others to be corrupted. The unforgiveness you hold on to can not only trouble you but it will corrupt those around you. Since we’ve personally known what it feels like to be hurt, I know we do not wish to cause anyone else similar pain. So let's choose to forgive. Let's look at examples in the bible of what forgiveness looks like.
#1 God is Kind
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” God is so kind and compassionate that he forgave us while we still were sinning. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” God is so kind that He loved us before we even knew he existed, before we loved Him. God is a kind God.
#2 You/I have sinned too throughout the years and God has forgive me
Luke 15:11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ 20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’ 22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Who do you identify with? The first son, the father, or the second son? Honestly I alway identified with the second son. But here’s the deal, We are ALL the first son! ALL OF US. Have you sinned even once? Then guess what? You had to be forgiven. We all need forgiveness and we all get welcomed back with a party! Let’s start by changing who we think we are. We are not perfect. We have hurt our Heavenly Father just as much as we’ve been hurt over the years. Yet God is so awesome and He forgives us so fast! He’s out there just like this dad already looking for us while we are still far away from perfection. This dad even had been preparing a fatted calf for this sons return. The main thing this son wanted/needed was food. He was starving to death and even before he returned, his dad was preparing the very thing needed to make the son well again. Our God does this for us and even for the ones we been hurt by.
#3 Jesus was betrayed by people too and He set the example to forgive them.
Jesus was hurt too. First by people in His own town. Out of anyone, He could have expected His friends and family to accept Him. But when Jesus went to His own home town they rejected His ministry. He was hurt by Judas also. Jesus’ own disciple betrayed Him for money. Jesus even knew it was coming and yet He still choose to believe the best and not banish Judas when he could have. Another time was right after this hurtful betrayal, while Jesus was painfully dying on the cross: Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Seeing that Jesus has gone through pain, hurt, and betrayal yet whether his feelings lined up or not He forgave, helps to know it’s possible for me to forgive. These people didn’t even know they were sinning. They were in the middle of causing pain to Jesus, yet He still forgave what they had done and what they were still doing. Sometimes we will never get an apology. Sometimes the person has no clue they even hurt us. But we can still forgive. Part of why Jesus was sent was to show us an example of how to live. If Jesus can do it, so can I! If Jesus can forgive, so can I.
#4 We are incredibly loved by God and so is the person who hurt you. God loves that person as much as He loves you.
Rom8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is to all! Not just me, not just you, but to ALL! Jesus came and died for ALL. If God still loves me after I hurt him by sinning, God still loves the person who hurt me. I’m not saying that He’s okay with people going around hurting people. But I’m saying He loves us ALL anyways. If God can forgive the person who hurt me and still love them, I can make a choice right now to forgive them! Even if I don’t feel it emotionally, I forgive. Even if they don’t know they should ask for forgiveness, I choose to forgive. I choose today that bitterness will not cause me or the people around me any more trouble.
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