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?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Forgiveness isn’t optional with God. Yes, admittedly there’s pain, anger, and even a sense of injustice about it, but it is the ONLY way to emotional, relationally, and spiritually move on in life and be free of the anger and resentment that unforgiveness carries. It’s the mixture of choosing humility and obedience that produces forgiveness…To Forgive is a mindset that decides to release rather than hold on to, to be freed rather than to be emotionally and relationally held hostage.
It’s one of those, “It sounds good, but how do you do it?” kind of things. Most people, in particular Christians, know they need to forgive, but they just don’t know how…For instance, let’s take the old saying, “Forgive and forget.” [Not only is this not possible it’s not practical.] One can’t just bypass the function of the temporal lobe of their brain that stores their memory and forgive, and we don’t want to forget the imprisoned effect that unforgiveness had on us [or] just how debilitating the person who caused us the pain made us live…In reality, to forget is not to connect to the pain. It’s out of the pain that we find our healing, and we also find out just who we are and who God is in the healing process.
No, forgiving is not forgetting. Nor is it excusing. But rather, it’s attaching yourself to the reality of the pain that it has caused while at the same time releasing the person who has caused the pain…It’s asking God to help you, through his love, to release the offender and the offense rather than hold on to them.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
The word “forgive” here means to send away, to let go, to give up a debt, to not be hindered anymore. This is the glorious outcome of forgiveness. We are no longer hindered or obstructed in our lives by the person who wounded us, the person who has been the center of our anger and resentment. Through forgiveness, the offense becomes reduced in our minds and thoughts. It’s no longer on the front burner of our psyche so as to affect our walk with Jesus and others. That equals emotional FREDOOM.
With the help of our forgiving God, here are six helpful steps to experience this emotional freedom.
1. Recognize the injury
2. Identify the emotions involved
3. Express your hurt and anger
4. Set boundaries to protect yourself
5. Cancel the debt (forgive)
6. Consider the possibility of reconciliation
When it comes to our freedom from wrongs suffered here on this side heaven, I believe The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said it best, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Forgiveness, through and act of loving obedience, is the only key that unlocks this truth.
Pastor Roger with the help of Dr. Fred Antonelli in his book Struggling Well pgs. 110-118