✝︎ The Freedom of Forgiveness

woman offering forgiveness

by Kim Johnson

DEFINITION OF FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

FORGIVENESS IS NOT . . .

  • Control. Withholding forgiveness holds no power over the other person. (Proverbs 14:29)
  • Letting the other person off the hook or condoning what happened. (Proverbs 29:6)
  • Hearing someone say it to you. (Psalm 65:3 – God forgave our sins before we asked.)
  • Reconciliation or re-establishing a relationship. (Matthew 18:15-19)
  • Forgetting. 
  • Affecting the other person. (Romans 12:20) “That is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.”

INDICATORS OF UNFORGIVING

  • Continually dwelling on events surrounding the hurt.
  • Hearing from others that you have a chip on your shoulder or are wallowing in self-pity
  • Being avoided by family and friends because your attitude drives them away.
  • Drinking excessively or using medication to numb the pain.
  • Having symptoms of depression or anxiety (these can also be signs of other health issues).
  • Being consumed by a desire for revenge or punishment.
  • Automatically thinking the worst about people or situations.
  • Feeling like your life lacks meaning or purpose.
  • Feeling at odds with your spiritual beliefs.
  • Having anger outbursts at small irritations,

FORGIVENESS IS . . .

  • Unilateral, meaning one-way.  Has nothing to do with the other person (Prov. 14:14)
  • You being forgiving even if the other person doesn’t know you’ve forgiven them.  (Proverbs 23:9 and 15:28)
  • Not dwelling on the injustice or pain. (Isaiah 43:18)
  • No longer allowing the situation to increase the anger, hurt, betrayal in your heart (Proverbs 25:20-22)
  • Mercy, not trusting, accepting or approving of the wrong. (Proverbs 14:7)
  • Forgiveness is your choice. It is freedom for you. (Proverbs 19:11)(Proverbs 14:9)

HOW TO FORGIVE

  • Understand it is a process.  The first step is to being willing to try the process (pray for the desire to forgive).
  • Recognize the value of it.  You are doing it for you.
  • Understand it is not necessarily a one-time thing or that your journey is over. You may find yourself having to forgive or go through the routine more than once as the situation continues to be resolved.
  • Choose to release the feelings (say the words, “I forgive “ ( name ) ” to yourself even if you don’t say them to the person).
  • Change your thought patterns about the offense away from bitterness to letting go.  You have the power to choose.
  • It is your choice to no longer be defined by the offense. (Proverbs 17:22)

INDICATIONS THAT YOU HAVE FORGIVEN 

  • The burden will be gone and you will be able to move on.
  • The offense will no longer be front and center in your life.
  • Your hostility and anger will be replaced by kindness and peace.
  • Depression and anxiety will lessen (if it is not caused by some health issue)

SCRIPTURE

Colossians 3:12-13Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Romans 12:19-20  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

QUOTES

“There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.”  Josh Billings (US Humorist, 1818-1885)

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”  Bernard Meltzer

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel.  Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”  Catherine Ponder