Romans 12:14-19 – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them…. Live in harmony with one another… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
No matter our age, gender, socioeconomic status, or life experiences, forgiveness is something every single person can do more of and improve upon. As humans, we all have a sense of pride and oftentimes want to right wrongs and punish others rather than forgive, and there’s a lot of misconceptions about the concept of forgiveness.
In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
A practical way to forgive and unburden, especially when you’re not able to talk with the person who has wronged you directly is to write what’s called a processing letter. In this type of letter, you write out every feeling that you have (good or bad) in complete honesty and then either keep it in a journal or get rid of it, but never send or share it. It helps unburden you so that you can move forward in faith and health.
As we look at the topic of forgiveness, I’ve put together some thoughts and ideas on what forgiveness is and is not in hopes that it’s helpful, clarifying, and makes forgiveness easier and more of a practice in our everyday lives.
Your Forgiveness is Not
- Ignoring, denying, enabling, or continuing what happened
- Enabling someone to continue to harm themselves or others
- Forgetting, meaning you remember it, but do not ruminate on it (Jeremiah 31:34)
- Trust and reconciliation
- A response to a repentant apology
- Something the other person(s) even need to know about
- God’s forgiveness
Your Forgiveness Is
- Replacing demonic strongholds with Holy Spirit anointing
- Forgiving a debt owed to you
- An act of faith in God to deal with them justly
- Getting the sin/hurt/burden away from your future
- A one-time decision and an ongoing process (70×7)
- Seeking internal and external peace to be healthy
- A witness to others who are watching
We have an opportunity in our forgiveness of others to unburden ourselves, act in faith, and be a witness to the unbelieving world. Forgiveness generally won’t be a one-time action, but instead will be a work in progress. But it will be life-changing and, since bitterness can be death to a person or a family, it can even break generational curses.
Who do you need to forgive that you either need to have a conversation with or write a processing letter to?