Learn How To Forgive

Why is it important to learn how to forgive? It’s for you!

Everyone at some point and time believe or know they have been mistreated or wronged.  Many times the immediate response is hurt, then anger, finally revenge.

However, the revenge part does line up with the word of God.  God tells us we have to forgive.  When asked how many times do we have to forgive a person, Jesus responded 70×7, which basically means as many times as it is necessary.

People can mistreat you or hurt you so deeply that forgiveness becomes a process. That means forgiveness is going to take some time. But God being God, as strange as it may seem, says now YOU have to forgive them!

They do not have to ASK for forgiveness, they do not have to earn forgiveness, you just have to forgive.  Why waste more time in unforgiveness than you have to?

Click here to order Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope by Everett Worthington

Forgiveness is not letting the person off the hook, forgiveness gives the person who was mistreated peace and a better quality of life. Research also shows that people who receive training in forgiveness experience reductions in depression and  gain hope. Yes, forgiveness can be taught and yes, you can learn how to forgive.

Do you know how long God has been telling us how important forgiveness is? Since Jesus died on the cross for us.  Now researchers such as those from the Harvard Mind/Body Institute and Mayo Clinic are saying that with such positive results, forgiveness, is “encouraging a fundamental shift in the treatment of patients and in the training of doctors, psychologists, and other caregivers”(TCSM, 2002).  People who forgive have experienced relief from anger, complaining, drug and alcohol abuse (TCSM, 2002).

The sooner you get started on the process of forgiveness the better. The longer you choose to operate in unforgiveness, the longer you hurt yourself. To be angry is not good for your health, says Herbert Benson, president of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute. Benson stated that forgiveness reduces anger and stress, and 60 to 90 percent of all doctors visits are stress related.

Maybe you think you already forgave. But when you think about them, what comes to mind? If they ask you for assistance, why did you say no? It may be okay to say no, but why you said no is important.

Consider this, if you do not forgive, that person still has control over you. You need to learn how to forgive them. You do not want to allow someone who mistreated you to still have control over you.  Life is too short and valuable to allow someone who has hurt you to continue to control you.  Research from the mind/body medical institute also showed that people who received training in forgiveness experienced a reduction in depression, and gained “self confidence, vitality, and hope”.  People who forgive have experienced relief  from anger, complaining, drug and alcohol abuse.
Robert Enright, professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin and author of Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-By-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope , stated that children who went through a forgiveness program have experienced fewer discipline problems.  Many people who committed crimes appeared desensitized until they forgave.  Once they forgave they could experience empathy for their victims.

 How Important Is Forgiveness

When they crucified Jesus he said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In 2Cor 2:10-11 it says to whom you forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.  In Forgiveness and Reconciling,  Worthington teaches you the process of forgiveness.

If God could forgive us, then certainly we can forgive others. He would not instruct us to forgive if we could not do it. If you do not forgive, you are leaving yourself open for Satan to take advantage of your unforgiveness.

Marriages break up and one person appears to hate the other person because of something that was done or said. Fathers and mothers cannot see their children because of anger over something that happened in the relationship. Visitation and support become issues because people are angry.   People who do not forgive many times become vengeful.  They are looking for a way to get even. Revenge is not for you. Vengeance belongs to God.

Meditating on revenge and planning revenge is stressful.  It is not healthy psychologically or physically.

They are becoming bitter. Learn how to forgive. People have baggage, anger and are acting out because of unforgiveness. You must learn how to forgive. Forgive before you move into the next relationship.  Don’t take your lack of your forgiveness issues into your dating relationships. Do not take that anger and bitterness into another relationship. Don’t think it’s not going to effect you in your new relationship, it will.

“The “as if” principle works. Act “as if” you were not afraid and you will become courageous, Act “as if” you could and you’ll find you can. Act “as if” you like a person and you’ll find a friendship. ” Norman Vincent Peele

Act “as if” you have forgiven and you will forgive.

Forgiveness is one of the few times you get to be selfish. Why should you forgive? Because only if you forgive will you be forgiven. For more information about how empowering it is to forgive and how to forgive read Forgiveness and Reconciliation by Everett Worthington.

Apologize

Parents, spouses, family, friends and strangers have verbally and physically abused, molested and just mistreated people in their lives.  Many times they knew what they were doing and sometimes they were just doing the best they could.  When raising children, many times parents do what you think is right, what was done to them or for them, or just the best they could.

Many times in relationships people do what do what they think is right. Sometimes they just did not care.  Maybe they did not have the coping skills to handle the situation differently. Many times people have their own unresolved issues.

But once you know better you can do better.  If you did something in a relationship because you did not know better or were just wrong, you could apologize.  Many times the people who experienced your lack of knowledge were hurt.  Some were short term wounds, but some suffer long term injuries.  Many will be taking that baggage into future relationships often not understanding their own behavior.  If you apologized, you could possibly help in their healing process.

When confronted with issues from the past, rather it was yesterday or thirty years ago, instead of defending your wrong or making an excuse for what you did, why not accept responsibility for what you did or did not do and ask for forgiveness.  If they succeeded in life, instead of thinking it was because of how you treated or mistreated them, consider that it was in spite of how you treated them.

Apologizing is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and growth.  It takes a big person to admit when they are wrong.  You can apologize to your child, your spouse or any victim. When you apologize, be sincere and change your behavior.  My suggestion and advice is Repent.

Forgiveness- the process

There are things that happen in life that cause us to have to forgive people we don’t even know.  You or someone you love could have been the victim of a crime.  It could have been intentional or unintentional.

Sometimes people get angry with God.  Yet many times the same God that we hold responsible for the action, we go to for understanding and comfort.  That is as it should be.  Just like children when you discipline them.  You discipline them and then you hug them, they will even run to you after discipline to be comforted because they know you still love them.

Many times we lack understanding.  Gods ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  If you find yourself angry with God, keep praying, keep going to church and reading your bible.  Ask him to help you with your unforgiveness, with your anger, and He will.  Remember He knows you better than you know yourself. You do not want to end up bitter and be given over to a reprobate mind;  one who is depraved, and rejects God.  He will keep you through whatever you are going through.  He will not allow more to be put on you than you can bear and He will make a way of escape.

How Important is Forgiveness?

It is so important that God sent Jesus.  So if God wanted to forgive and forget our sins and faults bad enough to send Jesus, we could be taking forgiveness too lightly. We let people go in our lives and move on thinking we are alright.  But are you alright with God?

Do not think that forgiveness is always going to be easy?  Look at the process that was in place before Jesus came in the flesh for God to forgive sins so that man could be back in right relationship with Him.  He wanted to put the sin, transgressions and iniquities as far away from us and Him as He could.  Does Jesus dying on the cross sound easy.   Every year the high priest offered the blood of animals for himself and for the errors of the people, so that they could be forgiven.

Under the old covenant forgiveness was a process.  In Leviticus 16:10-20 the priest would take a goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat.  The goat would be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement (compensation or apology for an offense or injury) with him, and let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.  Not just any man led the goat away, but a fit man.

When they crucified Jesus he said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  In 2Cor 2:10-11 it says to whom you forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.  If you do not forgive, you are leaving yourself open for Satan to take advantage of your unforgiveness.

People today seem to gloss over forgiveness.  Maybe forgiveness is not a struggle for everyone.  People seem to just leave one relationship and go to the next, people just move on in life taking their unforgiveness with them.  What happened to closure; the act of bringing the relationship to an end or conclusion emotionally.  People need to look at themselves and the situation they were in and take inventory?  They need to find out what they have learned about themselves, relationships and marriage.

What can you do better or differently next time.  What do I need to beware of next time?  What do you need to pay attention to next time that you failed to see last time?  Many times you do not see what you could have done differently in a relationship until you have hind site. Have you forgiven the people involved.  It could have been a marriage, an affair, a dating relationship, business, friendship, co-worker, mother, father or child.  The closure is for you, just as the forgiveness is for you.

The Forgiving Church

Scientist over the past twenty years have been studying the affect of forgiveness.  They found in the study that forgiveness not only has an effect on the victim but also on the offender.  They found that there are physiological changes that take place in people when they are walking in forgiveness and unforgiveness.  Chad Magnuson and Robert Enright authors of The Church as a Forgiving Community: An Initial Model (2008), stated that “forgiveness decreases anxiety, depression and anger and increases self esteem, hope and positive affect” (p. 114).  Two process models, Worthington’s REACH model and Enrights Process model agreed that in order to forgive,  the victim must have empathy for the offender.

Lack of forgiveness affects the victim and the offender.  The article states the offender must wait on forgiveness from the victim.  The victim cannot be forced or rushed into forgiveness.  Magnuson and Enright (2008), The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love , suggest that forgiveness must be a way of life in order for communities to survive. Even though the offender may not be deserving of forgiveness they are worthy of forgiveness based on the word of God.  People feel better when they forgive and people feel better when they ask for forgiveness.  In addition, because forgiveness affects individuals it affects society. It is important to forgive.

The Forgiving Community study is a three tier process which includes the family, school and the church.  In the forgiving community the process of forgiveness must start at the top, at the pastor, and have a trickle down effect and must have sustainability.  Forgiveness lessons or sermons must continue to be taught or discussed continuously because faith comes by hearing.  Forgiveness needs to be taught on every level, from small children in the home or day care, through out school and forever.

Forgiveness-A Way of Life

Forgiveness has to be a way of life.  If preachers stop teaching and preaching and people stop talking about forgiveness; people will forget about forgiveness.  Forgiveness cannot be a trend or fad that disappears in a short period of time, or goes out of style, it must be ongoing.  In the forgiving community large communities should trickle down and become mini communities until we have a world of forgivers.

How great it is that scientist are studying forgiveness, a key element of salvation.  They have also proved how important it is from a physical and emotional perspective to forgive.  That forgiveness is not just for the victim but also for the offender. Isn’t it just like God to have the victim have empathy for the offender.  How interesting that if the victim does not forgive or is not in a process of forgiveness they continue to meditate on the event to the point that it alters their way of thinking and how they view the world.  The offender is controlling the victim even though the actual offense is completed.

People expect the next relationship to be better than the previous relationship but have never gotten past the previous relationship.  They are still carrying that emotional baggage, that unforgiveness. We are told not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices.  I believe unforgiveness is one of his devices.  How can we take forgiveness so lightly when that is why Jesus died on the cross for us?  I guess that is why we must keep teaching, preaching and talking about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not a trend or a fad, truly it must be sustained.  It will be great when we can be like Jesus and forgive immediately,  instantly.

Start learning how to forgive Order Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope Now!