I have forgiven, but it doesn’t feel like I have
Forgiveness is hard! Jesus asks us to do a lot of difficult stuff, and forgiving others for the sins against us is right up there with the hardest of all. I have written for the last few days about forgiveness. I said that forgiveness is an act of the will, more than an act of the heart. When we think of forgiveness as an act of the heart, we find ourselves stuck sometimes, because our hearts just cannot forgive. Our hearts are too hurt to even think about forgiving. So we don’t.
We have to understand that if we are going to forgive, it must start with the head. We must see forgiveness as an act of obedience to Jesus. Jesus said we must ask for forgiveness, which matches the same level of forgiveness we give to others. So Jesus understands there are scales of forgiveness. Making a decision to forgive starts us on the road to forgiveness. The heart may not even be in agreement with the head. In fact it is often not in agreement! But if we are to live lives that are subject to the Holy Spirit, and in obedience to Jesus, we have to start the process, because forgiving other is not optional (see yesterday’s post).
Forgiveness comes in stages.
You have to start with the decision of the will to forgive. Even if you don’t want to, you make the decision to follow the command of Jesus, and so you say to God, and to yourself, I choose to forgive that person. Even though you may not feel like it! Then you remind yourself every time that you think about what was done to you, you confess that you have already forgiven. This is level one of forgiveness. It may take some time before the forgiveness starts to feel real. When you continue in this for some time, your heart will start to come in line with your spirit, and this is level two of forgiveness. You have forgiven in will and now the heart is starting to feel like the forgiveness is coming to pass. Eventually through prayer, Jesus will bring you to the place where your offense has been lifted and your heart is free of the hurt. This is level three and this is a time to rejoice. No longer does the hurt have any hold on you. This is the place Jesus wants us to be in, because we can then fulfil the command of Jesus to love another as He has loved us.
I started by saying that forgiving others is a difficult process to start. It is a difficult process to maintain, but Jesus sets us free. Satan wants us trapped by un-forgiveness, because we then lose the fruit of the Spirit – joy, peace, love, patience, goodness etc. But Jesus sets us free. He whom the Son has set free, is free indeed.