A lot of times we put forgiveness hand in hand with reconciliation. Ya know, when one person says they're sorry and we say "I forgive you" and then you move on.
Reconciliation with someone IS a beautiful thing.. But sometimes forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. Sometimes it's just between you and your heart.
"Forgive them even if they are not sorry."
Often when people don't apologize or show any sign of remorse for their words or actions, we think that validates us not to forgive them. We think we reserve the right to be mad and hold a grudge against them. We think we can treat them a certain way because of the way they treat us.
Today I read (Matthew 5 ) about how Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I was thinking about what that means to me because thankfully, I can't say I have a whole lot of 'enemies.' But I can say I definitely have had many conflicts big and small with various people.
So loving my enemies to me, means choosing to love and be kind to the people that don't always offer that behavior towards me. That's hard to do. I'm human, we mainly act based off of our emotions verses our true heart on the subject. I'm sure we'd all say we want to love our enemies and be kind to those who are unkind to us. It's in our hearts. But is it truly displayed in our lives? As forgiveness has been on my mind here lately, I decided to write about 3 steps I find super important in forgiveness.
1. Making the Choice
I think the very first step towards forgiveness is making the choice to forgive.
People won't always seek you to gain forgiveness. I'd say that's pretty rare, actually. So when people don't seek me for forgiveness, that's when I need to turn to God to seek help with forgiveness. For he himself is a God full of grace and forgiveness. I have to make the choice to choose grace, love, and forgiveness over any action another extends to me no matter how hurtful.
I have to make the choice that I will not let their actions or words towards me determine how I am going to treat them. I have to choose to act on what I know is right, instead of simply reacting based off of how I feel.
Colossians says "forgive as I have forgiven you" not "forgive if your offender says they're sorry"
2. Pray for the Situation
I think we really underestimate the power of prayer. Or maybe we think God is too big for all these silly little happenings in our life. But His word mentions multiple times how he cares for us.
1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
Psalm 55:22 "Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you."
Psalm 68:19 "Praise be to the LORD, our God and Savior, who daily bears our burdens."
We serve a God who is alive and active in our lives. He cares about the little things that break our smiles and make our hearts hurt. He cares and He's ready to take a stand against them.
3. Continue to Choose Forgiveness
Forgiveness isn't a one time choice. We have to choose to live a life of forgiveness. We are daily living in God's grace, as we should be daily living out His grace. When we make that choice to forgive, we have to continually choose forgiveness.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Lastly, I think the most important part is to be constantly pursuing God. If we want forgiveness and grace in our lives then we have to be pursuing the creator of forgiveness and grace.
Like I said, forgiveness can be a pretty tough thing. But it is powerful just like our God, the creator of forgiveness. He can take any situation and any heart and completely change it.
So now I believe you have a choice to make! :-))