Wednesday, January 19, 2011
After a breakup we may have a hard time with forgiving someone who has hurt us.
Sometimes we are wrong and we need forgiveness, and other times we are wronged; someone has hurt us. When they do, Christ wants us to forgive them. But before we can get to that place of release and forgiveness, we often wrestle with the decision. We want the other person to “get it,” to understand how much he has hurt us. We may want him to pay or be punished for what he’s done. The flesh (the human side of us) and the spirit part of us grapple with why we should forgive.
Men and women in relationships can hurt each other deeply. One guy started dating one of my closest friends while we were still together. Another one didn’t even have the guts to break up with me; he just closed off all communication—after two years of being together.
People lie, they hide, and they say and do things that can mar your heart for a really long time. Maybe the guy you were with used you, or maybe you’re sick about letting yourself be used. You didn’t want to, but you gave in to his sexual advances (whether it was sex or just doing more physically than you were comfortable with). You naively thought that would make him love you more—and maybe he would stay. But he didn’t. Maybe he was unkind, tactless or downright cruel. You wanted a promise-keeper and ended up with a promise-breaker. On the other hand, perhaps he was a “great guy” but you’re mad because he didn’t choose you.
We may have myriad reasons to be hurt or angry, and a part of us is hesitant to readily forgive. But our perspective changes when we realize what God has done for us. And in the light of the mercy He’s shown us, we can extend the hand of forgiveness to others.
To be sure, forgiveness does not always come easy. We want the scales of justice to be balanced; we want things to be fair. Yet, when we came to God asking Him for mercy despite our unwise and selfish ways, we were more than okay with the scales tipping in our favor.
Because He has first forgiven us, Christ commands us to forgive. And in an act of loving obedience to the One who loves us most we can follow Ephesians 4:31, 32, “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.”
Jesus himself said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14, 15)
Forgiveness comes in time, not always right away. Sometimes we have to grieve it first. Ross Parsley once said, “Forgiveness is a decision, but healing is a process.”
Forgiving others is possible as you:
Acknowledge you have been hurt. “I have been wronged.”
Receive God’s forgiveness. “I have been wrong, too. I need forgiveness.”
Choose to forgive. “I’m wrestling with why I should I forgive him?”
Release to God in prayer—and forgive. “Because God has forgiven me, I will forgive him.”
While you may have been offended, that does not mean you have to hold on to the offense. In this life we will be hurt or offended many times; that is a given. However, we have the choice of how we respond to the wrongdoing.
John Bevere in The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense says that offense is a tool used by the enemy to bring believers in captivity leaving them ensnared and unable to break free. “Pride keeps you from dealing with the truth,” said Bevere, “It distorts your vision. You never change when you think everything is fine.” You hold onto the offense, so you hold back forgiveness.
Bevere helps us to remember the law of sowing and reaping. “…when you sow the love of God, you will reap the love of God.”
Just as you plant seeds in your garden and reap a harvest of summer fruits and vegetables, when you sow seeds of unconditional love you reap the love of God in your own life. And that love gives you the reason— and the power—to release the person who has wounded you.
“The love of God is the key to freedom from the baited trap of offense,” said Bevere.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.