The question is not only how do you forgive someone, but even deeper, how do you forgive someone when the situation or person never changes? There is a lot of hurt in this world, and one of the huge marks of a Christian is that we are called to forgive. But what does it mean to forgive? Does it mean that we are to act like nothing ever happened? Does it mean that we are to just go and trust them again?
According to God’s Word, forgiveness is letting go of/canceling the debt owed. This comes from the greek word aphiemi [to hurl away, i.e. we are hurling away the hatred]. We see this in Matthew 18:23-34. The Master forgave the debt, in which the man was no longer required to pay the debt. So, what it means for us to forgive is to release the hatred, bitterness, revenge, ill-desires, and whatever negative feelings we have towards the person. This is difficult, and is not a one time thing, but something that we are called to daily do for the rest of our lives.
Here are some steps to help us walk in forgiveness daily.
1. Pray and take thoughts captive
When Jesus is teaching us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, He commands us to forgive.
2. If Possible, Overlook the Offense
A lot of times, we allow our pride to get in the way, and we take offense at minor things. We then allow ourselves to hold grudges over things that we should just overlook.
We also need to understand the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. These two are not the same thing. Forgiveness is the first step in reconciliation, but it does not guarantee reconciliation [the two parties being united together again, made right]. Forgiveness is a one sided action, it does not require both parties. If you are the offended, you are called to forgive regardless of what the other person does.
If we can’t overlook the offense, we are called to then go and confront those who have offended us.
Paul tells us in his writings that the example of our forgiveness is found in Christ.