There comes a time in the process of forgiveness we must follow Nike’s slogan and just do it. The D in FREEDOM is Decide. Decide to forgive.
We’ve discussed some of the benefits and barriers of forgiveness. Now Decide:
- To trust God’s character and forgive.
- To cancel the debt they owe.
- To trust God to turn something awful into something awesome.
Decide to forgive or turn the offender over to the bill collector—God. They’re off my ledger, but they are not off His. “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19).
God is the only one who can see into a person’s heart and deal justly. We can trust Him to do right for them and for us.
Until you forgive you are in a tug of war. You are yanked around every time you see them, think of them, or they do something that irritates you. When you lay down the rope, they may still jerk on the rope, but you’re no longer holding on.
- Give up trying to punish or get even.
- Give up the demand that they right the wrong done.
- Give up the struggle to change this person or the past.
Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving. You are being obedient. Your high priest helps you. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Heb. 4:15-16, NASB).
Neil Anderson in his Steps to Freedom recommends that you ask God to bring to your mind anyone you need to forgive. Write down each name. Don’t analyze why the name is there. He suggests adding yourself to the list. And if you feel angry or disappointed with God, deal with that too.
Next go through the names one at a time. I forgive ____________ for ____________ even though it made me feel ________ (rejected, dirty, alone, forsaken, unloved, etc.). Stay with a person repeating this process for each offense until there is nothing left to forgive.
Then thank God for delivering you from your bitterness and turn the offender over to God to handle as He knows best. He may open their eyes and grant repentance and faith in Him. Then move on to the next person on your list.
It is important to be real. Don’t suppress your emotions. This is not an intellectual exercise. You are releasing your confusion, anger, fears, and pain to God.
Joseph did not deny the evil intentions of his brothers. Instead he affirmed God’s ability to turn the awful into the awesome. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20, NASB). God has promised to do the same for you, (Romans 8:25-28.) Decide to let Him.
Deborah W. Wilson
P.S. My friend Sheila Cragg’s new book A Woman’s Heart for God: Drawing Closer to Lover of Your Soul has just come out. Her sincerity and authenticity will bless you.