Forgiveness is disassociating our offender from the evil they did to us, and letting
them go from our judgment. How then can we forgive or release them? People have
tried to forgive but find they are unable to do so. Perhaps they simply need to take
baby steps instead of heading straight to the destination. Some facts must be
established in order to facilitate forgiveness. Here is an outline that could help move
this process along. Some important ingredients include our will and the power of the
Holy Spirit to help us make the journey. These steps serve only as a guideline.
Accept the Offense
When you are offended, something negative has happened. Accepting and
acknowledging this fact is the first step to forgiveness. Before we can release the
offense, we need to know what happened. We must accept it on three fronts:
1) Know that the offense has happened. Accept the fact.
2) The offense cannot be undone or cancelled. Don’t look for ways to do or ask
for the impossible.
3) After accepting the fact, do not sweep it under the rug and pretend it isn’t
there. Remember, Joseph accepted what his brothers did to him.
Blame the Offender
Step two also plays a crucial role in forgiveness. Unless you blame your
offender for what they did, you cannot release him or her. You can only release
people you have bound in your heart. Sometimes, in an attempt to avoid pain, we
stick our heads in the sand and try to forget all about the negative experience. In
order for forgiveness to take place, we first have to find them guilty, and then we can
release them. Joseph did not try to justify his brothers for selling him off as a slave.
He told them that although they were blameworthy, he still chose to forgive them.
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to
pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive (Genesis 50:20).
We look for motivations of forgiveness
After blaming our offender, we must then make the decision of whether or not
we will let them go. This is the third step. What do we really want to do? Do we want
to forgive or not? Your willpower is crucial in this process, because God will never
force us to do anything.
There may be times when we want to forgive but find that we cannot. At this
point, we should look at the benefits of forgiveness. Benefits of forgiveness include
the release of pain of anger and resentment within us. Forgiveness heals wounds.
Forgiveness is beneficial to your health. Forgiveness enhances social life.
Forgiveness will ensure that God forgives you through the blood of Jesus Christ.
These benefits will help motivate you to forgive. Ask yourself, for example, what will
happen if you do not forgive. Unforgiveness will keep us chained to a painful past for
instance. It will affect our health negatively. We must examine both sides.
Hopefully, this will help us to make the decision to forgive. This is the most crucial
part of forgiveness. It is where we decide whether or not we will let go of both the
offense and the offender.
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:26).
Once We Are Ready to Forgive, Then We Let Them Go
Once we have made the decision to forgive, we should do so. In considering
forgiveness, we must recall the Bible’s definitions of forgiveness. We forgive our
offenders by releasing them of their offense, and we no longer hold it against them.
We cancel the moral debt they incurred. We transform the negative image we had of
them into a positive one. We acquit them as if they are not guilty, even though they
are. These are the meanings of Biblical forgiveness, and we now choose to offer our
offender this kind of forgiveness. Nothing can equal the moment we choose to
Personally, when I am ready to forgive, I take a step further. I solidify my
decision by speaking my decision aloud. There is something about confessing it that
strengthens my conviction. This practice has proved to be effective on several
different occasions in my life. When someone hurts me personally, I go to a private
place and say, “I forgive you, Mark, for not being there when I needed you. I release
you, I forgive you and I let you go in Jesus’ name. I no longer blame you. You are
free of all charges. I forgive you as God has forgiven me. I acquit you of the wrong
you have done against me.” Again, we use the meaning of Biblical forgiveness when
forgiving our offenders. This practice should, of course, be done in private. In this
way, I was able to forgive the drunk who killed my husband and three children. As I
confessed that I had forgiven the young man, I was able to actually forgave him.
To conclude, we must look for ways and motivations to forgive but we must
stick with our final decision once we have made it. Remember God, who commands
us to forgive, is always there to help us.
Lord, I need your help to forgive. Help me to choose forgiveness instead of
malice. When my emotions are so strong and the pain is deep, help me to choose
to forgive. I receive your strength, Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1. Do you have difficult blaming people for what they have done? How do you
address this issue?
2. Have you ever tried confessing your forgiveness aloud? What happened?
3. What do you do when you find it difficult to put the past behind you?
4. What are the reasons to forgive?