Last week people were given opportunities to text questions to me during the church service. (I love technology...[sometimes] I got half the question during the service, and the other half five days later). Here's the question (in two parts): 7/8 - "I have been to a church where people always say" Then on 7/13 "YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE! But no one ever helps you understand how to do that."
First, where does it say we must forgive? Mt. 6:12,15; 18:22,35; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 6:37; 17:4; Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32; Ja. 2:13
Second, where does God show us how to do this? Matt. 18:15-35
- Confront the one that has sinned against you appropriately: First, One on one. Assuming they do not acknowledge their sin then next, with a mutual friend verifying facts. Third, with a spiritual authority respected by you both. Lastly, a healthy set of boundaries protecting you from further harm, while being willing to forgive if there is repentance. (1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8)
- Watch closely the Master Forgiver - God himself. Matt. 18:18-35 First, the master forgives, then he holds his servant accountable to forgive others. Lastly, he reminded the servant of that which he had been forgiven.
- Think this through, first accept God's forgiveness for your sins against Him. Second, get a clear perspective of what you are really forgiving another person for, not just a lathered up drama Satan has planted in your heads to divide you. (Check this tract out - a test of love tract) Third, and most important stay focused on God's goodness in spite of your sins. There in lies the secret, we will never have to forgive someone for something as big as what God has forgiven us for. Stop looking at how you have been wronged and start focusing on how you have been redeemed!
Forgiving the Unforgivable by David Stoop
Dimensions of Forgiveness by Everett L. Worthington, Jr. (Although a dated book it has a very good annotated bibliography on forgiveness)
Deadly Emotions by Don Colbert
What's your process? How have you learned to focus on His goodness instead of the ways others have wronged you?