When I was a teenager, I used to shun interaction with my family because I felt incredibly hurt and perceived I was rejected by them. Rejection rejects. How could I feel so betrayed in a pastor’s family?
Someone gave me a tape by a pastor who had unforgiveness toward his congregation (I don’t remember who it was). After listening to it, I knew God wanted me to write down each family member’s name and each way I felt they had done me wrong. The scribbles on my paper looked like a mountain! Then it dawned on me: I had an enormous mountain of unforgiveness toward my family.
Forgiveness is usually more difficult for the one doing the forgiving than the one being forgiven. We might forgive someone, but not completely. The devil might try to convince you that the person owes you an apology in order for the relationship to be reconciled. But what if the person doesn’t say he is sorry? How we consciously respond to that question is critical.
To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
How to Forgive
Forgiving others is so important that Jesus said that the Father won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive others (Matthew 6:15). How do we do that without it cropping up again? When dealing with my mountain of offenses, I utilized the five keys to unlocking the bondage of unforgiveness that I learned as a teenager:
- I completely forgive [insert his name] for [say what he did to me].
- [Insert his name] owes me nothing, not even an apology, for [say what he did to me].
- I forget that [insert his name] for [say what he did to me].
- I renounce any negative feeling I have toward [insert his name].
- Father, help me see [insert his name] through Your eyes and with Your love.
I’ve had to repeat this powerful process innumerable times in my relationships, and each time I have experienced amazing healing. Peter asked Jesus how many times we are supposed to forgive someone. “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22) The principle of forgiving from the heart stands above the place of tracking an exact number of offenses. Those who practice putting a limit on forgiveness will be overtaken by a root of bitterness.
It is possible that you may need to forgive someone more than 490 times. I’ve had to instruct my boys in forgiving one another a couple hundred times before they were even out of kindergarten!
Question: How has forgiving changed your relationship with someone?