Bruce and Toni Hebel have written a book called Forgiving Forward. In their book about forgiveness, they write about how hurts in their own life had turned them bitter and made them susceptible to being hurt again. There were just too many soft spots for people to touch.
The Danger of Unforgiveness
Even the health professionals have noticed the danger of unforgiveness. The Mayo Clinic has a web article on Adult Health called Why is it so easy to hold a Grudge? It says, “If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance, and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. If you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly.
The Medicine of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the antidote to bitterness and hurt. It’s the medicine we give others, that brings healing to our lives.
Pastor and Author Charles Stanley says, Unforgiveness is a sin, and unconfessed sin creates “static” in a believer’s relationship with God. Unforgiveness hinders our prayer life.
Unforgiveness and Sin
It’s hard for us to understand how unforgiveness can be a sin, especially in egregious situations. Matthew 18 is a passage on forgiveness. It begins with Peter asking the question,
Matthew 18:21–22 (NIV)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Most of us would agree that Peter is being pretty generous here. He suggests 7 times as a pretty good number. Not only that but Peter chooses a Biblical number. There were 7 Holy Days in the life of Israel. There were 7 men in the Old Testament who mentioned as a man of God. The number 7 is used over 735 times in the Bible.
Peter suggests a limit of 7 times. Jesus removes the limits.
We refuse to forgive others, it’s like saying, “Jesus your death on the cross isn’t worth that other persons forgiveness.” They don’t deserve forgiveness. Their debt is too great. They have offended and hurt me too much.
The Forgiveness we Get and the Forgiveness we Give
The amazing thing is, we still want forgiveness to be extended to us. And it is. Jesus covers the debt. He covers our debt and he covers other’s debts. We forgive others because we have been forgiven. We also let God be God and let him be the one in charge of justice. God can judge sin better than we can anyway.
We forgive for us. We forgive as a way of saying, “God, you are the ultimate forgiver and I am going to forgive because you have forgiven me. I am going to let you deal with that sin against me and I am going to hold onto it no longer.”
How to forgive – The Steps
- Thank God for forgiving you. – Remember, the power to forgive begins in recognizing that your heavenly Father has forgiven you.
- Ask God, “Who do I need to forgive and for what?”. – Sometimes this is clear for people who need to begin forgiving forward, and other times it requires us to pray quietly and see what the Lord might clarify with you.
- Repent of your sin of unforgiveness. – Forgiveness is not something we can simply choose to do or disregard. It was commanded by our Lord and Savior and requires a humble, willing and obedient spirit.
- Forgive each offense from your heart.
- “Lord, I choose to forgive _________from my heart for _________.
- “Lord, is there anything else I need to forgive _______ for?
- “I declare ______________ is no longer in my debt.”
- Ask God to bless them and look for ways to bless them when possible. – This brings action and releases real freedom to move through you. It is also the evidence that you have truly forgiven as you have been forgiven.
- Commit to “not remember” the offense. When the memory comes…
- Say, “I specifically remember forgiving that.”
- Praise God for the freedom forgiveness has brought you.
- Bless the person you forgave again.
- Pray for reconciliation.
- Make pre-forgiveness a lifestyle. – Jesus promised us that offenses would come. Choose today that you are going to be a person who is ready to forgive those who will offend you.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, show me how to model your forgiveness, but forgiving others. Who do you want me to forgive?
 “Why Is It So Easy To Hold A Grudge?.” Mayo Clinic. N. p., 2018. Web. 30 Sept. 2018.