I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, but I will say that, like many of you, I’ve had my fair share of opportunities to practice forgiveness. I think for some people, perhaps, the act of forgiveness may come easier than for others, due to personalities or even personal experiences. But, I know for a fact, that forgiveness can become easier with practice.
One of the best ways to forgive (and keep on forgiving people) is to simply capture your thoughts and change them. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. And Philippians 4 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
When those conversations creep into your mind where you replay what was said and think of new ways to lash out at that person, take that thought captive, stop, and redirect your thoughts to something more positive. When you’re lying in bed and replaying through your thoughts a time when you were mistreated in some way, stop and redirect your focus onto something else, something good. It’s hard to feel forgiving or to act forgiving toward someone when you continuously replay their wrongs. I suspect this is an issue with a lot of marriages as well. I know that I prefer people not hold against me the things I’ve said or done that offended them (even if it was accidentally), so why can we not be gracious enough to extend that same opportunity to them, to let go of the times we’ve been offended by them?
I recognize that there are certain sins against an individual that might require more time or even counseling to work through to a place of forgiveness. But that ought to be the goal of every Christian, so that the power of Christ can be seen by forgiveness through us.
I wrote a short Facebook post a couple of years ago discussing this topic after a celebrity was outed for some past and current sins. It seemed to spark such a nerve with people who couldn’t understand how victims could forgive, because it seemed as if forgiving was giving the offender permission to sin. But I believe that forgiveness is not at all a permissive or excusatory act, but, rather a choice by those offended to not be held captive by the offensive act in thought or emotion.
In my Facebook post, I said:
Condoning sin and forgiving sin are two different things. Condoning sin says, “I think what you did was ok.” Forgiving sin says, “What you did was wrong. I will let consequences/discipline/repercussions take their course for you, but I will not hold your sin against you.” The action of forgiveness may take a little time and it often takes practice, but for the Christian it is necessary, commanded, and a banner of Christ in us.
Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Matthew 6: 14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
You don’t have to condone someone’s sin to forgive them and not hold it against them. Those who’ve been forgiven much should be the first to offer forgiveness. Who do you need to forgive today?
Luke 7:47 “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
LOVE BIG TODAY!!