Forgiving can be difficult and even more difficult when we seek to hold on to a grudge and reopen old wounds. However, Jesus Christ gave us to power to overcome with good and forgive those who have wronged us. When we read the Word, we come to very clear understanding that it is not the will of God for us to stay in the place of offense, hold grudges and withhold forgiveness from anyone. God Himself is abundant in His mercies and forgives us when we transgress Him. He wants us to extend forgiveness to others as He has done to us.
Here are 5 keys to moving past offense and choosing to forgive:
Guard Your Heart and Anticipate the Offense
We are born in sin and we live in a sinful, broken world; we must anticipate that we will be offended. People will say or do things that rub us the wrong way. People are broken and as a result they may treat others wrongly because of what’s on the inside of them. Know this, expect it and prepare to extend forgiveness even before you are offended. Resolve to understand the nature of the world we live in and adjust accordingly. Pretend you have a stack of cards that you walk around with and forgiveness is written on the cards. When someone offends you, picture yourself retrieving a card and giving it to them. There is no limit to forgiveness, you are to forgive as many times as you have been offended. There you have not allowed yourself to tarry in the place of offense which is a dangerous place to be in. Staying offended clouds your judgement, prevents you from understanding the other person and may lead to you being unforgiving towards them; which in turn disturbs your relationship with God.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Remember Your Sins
God has forgiven you of your many sins, whether related to the same person that has offended you or not. Forgiveness is not something you sit and think about. God does not sit and ponder whether or not to forgive you. Jesus died on the cross and we have been made right with God. When you remember what you have been forgiven of it will cause you to realize how much of a sinner you are yourself and should prompt you to forgive others quickly. The Word of God is very clear. If you choose not to forgive others, God will not forgive you.
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15 NLT).
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12 NLT)
Choose to Forget it and Move on
Some people are quick to say, I can forgive but I can’t forget. Well, think of it this way: What if God were to remind of you of your sins and each time you transgress Him, He brings up your past? How would you feel? Condemned right? We are not called to condemn others and when we choose to rehash and remind ourselves and/or others of what they’ve done, we condemn them. We are called to love God with everything and love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). In loving God, we forgive and forget because that is how He treats us. In loving others, we extend to them what God extends to us. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that “love keeps no records of wrongs.” That is to forget. Bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Jesus would not remind others of their sins and He admonishes you to do the same. No one is suggesting you acquire amnesia but you must choose not to remember and discipline yourself to think on things that are good, pure, just, honest and true instead (Philippians 4:8).
Love keeps no record of being wronged. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT)
Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! (Micah 7:19 NLT)
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. ( Psalm 51:1 NLT)
Pray for the Person and Yourself
Pray the Word of God over the person who has offended you and pray the Word over yourself. Ask God to work on your heart and on theirs. Sometimes we cannot rencoile for whatever the reason but you want to make sure that you are not holding a grudge. God responds to prayer and if you want His will, pray His Word. If you don’t know what to pray, ask Him to show you how to pray for this person. When David was hated by Saul and had to escape in order to preserve his life, He turned to God. Some of the Psalms we read today, were David’s prayers to God in these moments of distress and despair. Cry out to God, He is near to the wounded.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16)
Leave it to God
Vengeance belongs to God. Why? He is blameless and holy when He judges. He knows this person best, He searches the hearts of people, He loves us unconditionally and His wisdom surpasses ours. He knows how to go about fixing the situation and how to deal with this person. He sees the situation from all angles and understands both sides because He does show favoritism (Romans 2:11). You are not blameless and as humans when we are offended, we sometimes execute judgement that does not fit the crime because we are so involved with our feelings. We want the best revenge that will hurt the most. But God does not seek to hurt, He seeks to heal.That’s why God had to meticulously lay down the law to the Israelites because we don’t always respond to others as we should, especially when they have wronged us. We still are not always able to abide by the law and obey the Word of God; leave the vengeance to God. He will repay that person.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21)