The following is taken from How can i possibly forgive? rescuing your heart from resentment and regret. Get a copy on Amazon.
1. Forgiveness is possible with God’s help.
God loves to help us come back to him, and when we are dealing with a hurt that brings up pain and resentment and any number of other negative emotions, we are inching or sometimes leaping away from him. But forgiving someone will never keep us at arm’s length from God; our forgiving actions will only bring us closer to him. God helps us move forward and stop looking back. Trust that you can follow him. Trust he will help you forgive.
2. God expects us to forgive.
This has no room for negotiation, friends. God wants us to forgive. He wants us to forgive our enemies who do us wrong, forgive our friends who say careless things, forgive our family members who make us want to cry or tear our hair out. He wants us to let it go, and he expects us to do it. See what Jesus said in Luke 6:37.
3. Forgiveness restores a right relationship with God.
We do not have to have an ongoing relationship with someone to forgive that person. But we still need to forgive, because how we treat that person impacts how we respond to God’s leading in our lives.
4. True forgiveness releases hard feelings.
The person you need to forgive may never offer an apology or admit any wrongdoing. But your forgiveness for their wrong releases those feelings that keep you from walking forward, maybe even from starting a new friendship or pouring into your current relationships because you’re afraid or because you now have great doubt and mistrust of other people.
Other emotions could be holding you back from the plan God has for you. When we hold kindness and compassion in our hearts (Ephesians 4:32), it’s difficult to hold anger and cynicism at the same time. Get rid of the junky feelings—get rid of those negative emotions that come when we refuse to forgive someone. Give the forgiveness, breathe in God’s grace, and let that grace shine out to others.
5. Forgiveness means losing yourself and gaining more of God’s presence and love in your life.
I think about Jesus’s words in Matthew 5, when he talks about going the extra mile in his name.
These are not easy statements to follow! These instructions go against everything in our culture today. But Jesus has a reason and a purpose in what he says. He points out that if we love just those who are easy to love, what does that mean? Does that make us any more right than people who do wrong? (Luke 6:33,35).
Forgiveness isn’t all about us. We forgive because we recognize God forgives us. We give grace because we understand that God is gracious with us.
This is simple to hear but not so simple to carry out each and every day. Yet, we also know God gives us strength to do what’s hard. And when it feels like the impossible, that’s when we can count on God the most.