Forgiveness is defined as a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group that has harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve the forgiveness or not.
As Christians, we have been forgiven by God in Christ and released from the judgement of death that is upon all men. Every charge against us has been removed because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This act of forgiveness by God is the foundation for cultivating the habit of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not given because the other person deserves it, in fact, most of the time the other person does not deserve it but forgiveness is an intentional act of love and grace.
Think about this, before you were born, God has loved you and forgiven you of the sins you have not had the chance to commit. Jesus gave His life for you, took your place in judgement and the God was satisfied by the sacrifice.
How then does this play into cultivating the habit of forgiveness?
As Christians, we have accepted the forgiveness of God and have become reconciled with Him. This means that we no longer carry the nature that tends towards unforgiveness, rather, we have a new nature. This nature [of God] in us is one that forgives because God has already forgiven everyone, it extends the nature of God to every man.
Just as God has forgiven you, extend that forgiveness to yourself first. Most of us judge ourselves harshly because we’ve fallen short of our expectations and made costly mistakes, we start feeling guilty and hate ourselves. And when these mistakes keep occurring, we start telling ourselves negative words like, “That’s just who I am” or “I can’t ever do this thing right.”
What to do about this behaviour?
- Understand that God has forgiven you.
- Accept the love of God.
- Identify the belief that keeps holding you down,
- Study the Word of God and find your new identity in Christ
- Constantly reaffirm to yourself who you truly especially when the negative beliefs creep up on you.
Stop Being Angry With God
You cannot harbour anger against God and receive blessings, not because God is being vengeful but because the state of your heart cannot receive everything that God has released. You need to release the anger and understand that God loves you deeply and He is always on your side.
Ways To Cultivating The Habits Of Forgiveness
- Understand that forgiveness is a part of your nature as a child of God
As children of God, we possess the nature of God and the very essence of this nature is love. Following in the steps of the Father, we have the ability to forgive unconditionally but this can be achieved only through the help of the Holy Spirit.
- Remind yourself that Jesus Christ died for the person that hurt you and be empathetic
When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t pick and choose; He died for everyone, and that includes you and the person that hurt you. This implies that both you and the other party are sinners and have fallen short of the mark. So, judge less harshly because that other person also has similar shortcomings.
Understand that you hurt others too and if you think about how you feel when you’ve hurt someone else, forgiveness would be easier.
- Identify the negative emotions swirling within you
Emotions are fickle and in a day, you experience a range of emotions from happiness to sadness and everything in between. While we experience these emotions, we need to first understand that these emotions do not define us. Look at yourself and name the negative emotion – I’m angry right now or I’m feeling sad right now. Quickly move on after identifying the emotion.
- When you hurt someone else, be quick to apologise
Don’t wait for your wrongdoings (except you didn’t realise you did something wrong) to be pointed out all the time; once you realise you’ve hurt someone, just apologise genuinely.
- Understand that in the midst of the pain, God is working out a plan.
We live in a fallen world and we will deal with circumstances that are hard and painful. However, we have this assurance – “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
We are imperfect humans living in an imperfect world, we are the children of a God that created us for to fulfil His will. When we are faced with challenges and pain, we never see the whole picture but it is important to cast all of our pains on God and actively trust in Him that everything would work out fine.
I’ll leave us with this quote from Mahatma Gandhi
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Anyone can hold a grudge and refuse to forgive but the truly strong person does the hard thing and forgives.
Has an act of forgiveness cost you?
Please share your answer and thoughts in the comment section.