What Is Real Forgiveness?
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32 NIV)
Real forgiveness is not a cheap term you just throw out that instantly makes everybody feel better. That's not real forgiveness.
The Bible says real forgiveness is four things:
Forgiveness is remembering how much you've been forgiven.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). This is the starting point for genuine forgiveness. If you don't feel forgiven, you won't want to forgive anybody else. If you're hard on yourself, you're going to be hard on others. But the more grace you receive from God, the more gracious you're going to be to others. The more forgiven you feel by God, the more forgiving you'll be toward others.
Forgiveness is relinquishing your right to get even.
Romans 12:19 says, "Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it" (LB). Life is not fair, but one day God's going to settle the score. He's going to right the wrongs. So, who can get better justice - you or God?
Forgiveness is responding to evil with good.
The Bible says in Luke 6:27-28, "Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (NIV). How can you tell when you've really forgiven somebody? When you can look at that person's hurt and not just your own and pray for God to bless him or her.
You ask, "How could I ever do that for the person who's hurt me?" You can't unless you allow the love of God to penetrate your life. Only the love of God can help you do something like that.
Forgiveness is repeating the process as long as necessary.
"Peter came to him and asked, 'Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?'" (Jewish law said you had to forgive a person three times, so Peter doubled it and threw one in for good measure.) "'No, not seven times,' Jesus replied, 'but seventy times seven!'" (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)
How long do you have to keep forgiving a person? As long as it takes. You have to keep forgiving that person until the pain stops and the desire to get revenge goes away.
Talk It Over
- What difference has God's grace made in your life? How can you extend that grace to others?
- For whom do you need to pray God's blessing today? What hurt do you need to let go of?
- What good can you do for someone in your life who hates you or who has wronged you?