How to Forgive: Let’s Do It

I watched an exercise DVD and imagined what it would be like to live in a svelte, strong body like the ones demonstrating the advanced Callanetics. But alas, watching exercise DVDs doesn’t tone bodies. 
Similarly, thinking about forgiving someone isn’t the same as forgiving.

There comes a time in any process when we must follow the Nike slogan, “Just do it.” In our series we’ve been spelling FREEDOM. The D in FREEDOM stands for Do it. We’ve discussed some of the benefits and barriers to forgiveness. Now it’s time to do it!

When We Forgive We—

  • Trust God’s character.
  • Transfer the debt they owe us over to God.
  • Let God turn something awful into something awesome.

When I forgive I turn the offender over to the bill collector—God. They are moved off of my ledger onto His.

‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19 NIV).

God sees clear through a person’s heart and deals justly. We can trust Him to do right for them—and for us.

Unforgiveness locks us into a cruel game of tug of war. This taxing exercise wastes more than time. The mere thought of the one who injured us throws us off balance. When we forgive, we open our hands and release the cord that ties us to the offense and the offender. It doesn’t matter if they continue to jerk the rope. We no longer hold it.

When we forgive, we open our hands and release the cord that ties us to the offense and offender. They may still jerk the rope, but we no longer hold it. #forgiveness Click To Tweet

Do It:

  • Surrender the desire to punish or get even.
  • Give up the demand that the wrong be righted.
  • Let go of the struggle to change the person—or the past.

Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving. Choose obedience (Luke 17:1-10). Your high priest is helping you pass on what you received from Him.

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).

Steps to Forgive:

  1. Pray. Dr. Neil Anderson, in his Steps to Freedom, recommends that we ask God to bring to our minds anyone we need to forgive. So ask Him to do that for you. And thank Him for helping you forgive.
  2. Write down each name that comes to mind. Don’t analyze why the name came. Anderson suggests adding yourself to the list. And if you feel angry or disappointed with God, he says to add His name. This is not because God did anything wrong, but it allows you to acknowledge and release your bitterness. Take this opportunity to be freed from all resentment. 
  3. Go through the names on your list one at a time. I forgive ____________ for ____________ even though it made me feel ________ (rejected, dirty, alone, forsaken, unloved, worthless, etc.). Stay with a person repeating this process for each offense until there is nothing left to forgive. 
  4. Thank God for delivering you from bitterness. Release the offender to God to handle. He may open their eyes and grant repentance and faith in Him. Even if they’ve died, you still benefit from releasing them.
  5. Repeat the process with each person you listed until you have forgiven every person on your list. (When you come to God, you may want to change the wording to “I confess I’ve been angry and hurt with You for ____________. I choose to let it go, even though I’ve felt ________. I surrender my will and my ways to You.)

This is not an intellectual exercise. Release your confusion, anger, fears, and pain to God

Be real. Joseph did not deny his brother’s evil intentions. He affirmed God’s sovereign plan to use the awful experience for good.

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.) Let Him.

How to Maintain Our Freedom

Next time, we’ll look at how to maintain our freedom. Some wounds have to be cleaned Over and over again. Later we’ll address how to Manage our relationship with untrustworthy people. In the meantime, know that God will reward your obedience.

Savor the peace as you surrender any other nagging issues that surface. You might enjoy the song “Blessings” by Laura Story.

Share your thoughts here.



Find the first post in the forgiveness series here. Continue the series with When You Have to Forgive Again.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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  1. Melissa Henderson

    Amen. Forgive. Forgive today. Forgive right now. And, if you are like me, ask God to help you forgive. 🙂 Great message.

    • Debbie Wilson

      I think we all need the help! Thanks, Melissa.

  2. Ann Musico

    I love this series you are doing Debbie. Forgiving is one of the most important things we can do to stay healthy spiritually and physically.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ann. And thanks for the reminder that it plays into our physical health!

  3. Jennifer DeFrates

    This is a great resource on how to forgive in a Godly way even those who have gone out of our lives. I made the decision to forgive some people of some pretty unforgivable things when I realized how they were in the clutches of evil and need delivering more than I needed justice. I started praying for them instead of harboring hate. Made a big difference in my heart!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jennifer, what a powerful testimony. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  4. Tammy L Kennington

    Debbie, these words are so beautiful and true! “When we forgive, we open our hands and release the cord that ties us to the offense and the offender. It doesn’t matter if they continue to jerk the rope. We no longer hold it.”

    Amen!! There is freedom in forgiveness!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Tammy. There is freedom in forgiveness!

  5. J.D. Wininger

    Such an important lesson here Ms. Debbie. Thank you for sharing ma’am.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, J. D.

  6. Rebecca Hastings

    This line is so powerful and convicting — “thinking about forgiving someone isn’t the same as forgiving.”

    Love it!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Rebecca. Blessings to you.

  7. Aimee Imbeau

    Forgiveness – such a sticky subject! And so misunderstood. But it’s necessary if we want to walk in freedom. Thanks for sharing on Grace & Truth!

    Something to keep in mind for the future – we love featuring posts every week, but our policy is that there is a link back to one of us hosts. I just thought I’d mention that in case you were interested in a feature at some point;)

    • Debbie Wilson

      Forgiveness is a sticky and misunderstood subject. Aimee, I usually have the links at the bottom of the blog. I see I got busy and forgot to post add to this one. Thanks for catching that. I’ll add it. 🙂

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