I’ve been to Strife City. It’s not pretty. When I stormed out its gates, I felt dirty all over. I tried to shake it off but still felt miserable. The burning thoughts of the ugly encounter filled my head. Despondency inhibited me from planning what to do next.
Over time God reminded me that His truth makes me beautiful. This idea stirred me from my dismal state: my ugly encounter for His beautiful truth. But how do I get from one opposite extreme to another? I was willing to be teachable.
He enlightened me on how to forgive completely.
If I want to model God, I should follow His way of forgiveness. It takes choosing love and knowing that it covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
No matter how hard it is to forgive or how many times we have to do it, we must remember that forgiveness isn’t optional for a Christian (Colossians 3:13).
And When You Pray: Understanding the Lord’s Prayer
I’ve heard it for years: someone says that he forgives you but allows the memory to stay etched in his head. You hear it in movies, from overhearing shoppers in the store, and even in the body of Christ.
“Yes, I forgive him, but I don’t forget what he did! I remember what he did to me. I won’t let him forget how he hurt me! But, we’re supposed to forgive, so I forgive him.”
At one time, unattractive statements like that were the way I felt.
Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:13 NASB
God showed me there’s a delicate balance between the memories of my past that float through like a passing cloud, and choosing to remember them like staring at the sky to see what shape I can make from the cloud. Those passing clouds? They’re there, but I don’t look up.
If I love the way He does, I will apply His way of forgiveness.
5 Ways to Model God’s Way of Forgiveness
1. Forgive others’ sins against us. Enough said.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25 KJV
2. Ask the Father to forgive the offender. It’s interesting that when we do this, we are suddenly desiring a gift to be granted to the guilty party. It’s not so easy to stay mad at that person.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34a KJV
3. Free others from guilt. 1 John 1:9 tells us God cleanses our sin. According to the Greek lexicon, cleanse there means “to free from the guilt of sin.” If someone is innocent, then he didn’t do it and there’s no reason to act like he’s guilty.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. John 20:23 ESV
4. Let go of resentment. I’ve talked before about how love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. No running list of “all those times.” When our thoughts want to dwell on it, cast it down as fast as we would brush away a mosquito. Deal with our own heart because holding onto offense can lead us into other areas of sin.
[Love] does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
5. Forget others’ sins against us. God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and chooses not to remember our sins.
I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25 ESV
Note: Natural memories of past circumstances might still be present, especially while we are still being healed from hurt. However, if we choose to remember because we are holding a grudge, that is when we walk through a door that leads to the root of bitterness.
“You don’t know what they did to me.”
No, I don’t. But God does, and despite the pain, He is a God of love. Doing these five things causes us to walk in His way of forgiveness.
It’s love in action.
How else can we model God’s way of forgiveness?
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