Forgiveness is a private decision between an individual and God. It is a decision in our hearts to not allow the actions of anyone else, other than God, to determine our well-being. For this reason, we truly can forgive anyone for anything. The reason we forgive is to combat bitterness. Once bitterness takes over, it will continue to grow until it has completely destroyed the heart of the one who is holding onto it. This is why Paul stated in Colossian 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The simplest way I know of to make forgiveness real is to say the following six statements out loud when I need to forgive an individual:
1. I forgive (name the person) for (name the offense).
2. I admit that what happened was wrong.
3. I do not expect this person to make up for what he or she has done.
4. I will not use the offense to define who this person is.
5. I will not manipulate this person with this offense.
6. I will not allow what has happened to stop my personal growth
If you can say all six sincerely, you have forgiven. If you can’t, then ask God to prepare your heart and try again tomorrow.
Although this protects your heart from bitterness, it does not address the relationship. In order to restore the relationship, there must be repentance on the part of the one who caused the offense.
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