When you think of forgiveness, does a specific person or situation come to mind right away? Often at this time of year, instead of feeling peace and joy, the holiday season can actually highlight the problems and pain we feel. However, this Christmas God invites you to forgive those who’ve hurt you and live free. But how? To experience the TRUE joy of Christmas, let’s learn what the bible really says about forgiveness - and how we can take steps towards the freedom of forgiveness.
WHAT BIBLICAL FORGIVENESS IS AND IS NOT
The truth is, biblical forgiveness is NOT about minimizing the seriousness of the hurt you experienced. Forgiveness does NOT necessarily mean reconciliation on this side of Heaven. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. Also, forgiveness is NOT fair - and thank God for that! If God was fair in His dealings with us, we would be paying for our own sins instead of being covered by the sacrificial forgiveness of Jesus.
TAKING STEPS TO FORGIVE WHEN IT'S HARD
Maybe you want to do the work of forgiveness, but deep down you don’t think you can do it. In some ways, you’re right: It’s impossible to forgive in your own right. But, as believers, we are never measured by our own strength, but by the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in us! Amen? Philippians 4:13 says “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
So know that, through God living and working in you, you can settle your hurts once and for all to experience the freedom of forgiveness this Christmas! That’s why next, we want to provide you with 3 things the Bible says to do, practically, to forgive when it’s hard:
#1) Pray For Your Enemies: First, in Matthew 5:43-44 Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies. This is so counterintuitive… But when you pray for the person you are trying to forgive, your heart will change. The thing is, You cannot pray for someone and hate them at the same time! With prayer, you will notice that your heart towards this person will change.
#2) Bless Your Enemies: The next counterintuitive, countercultural way to take steps towards forgiveness is to bless your enemies. In Luke 6:27-28, the Scripture says “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” When Jesus calls us to bless our enemies here, really, he calls us to speak well of them. Instead of being tempted to trash-talk those who hurt you, let no slander come out of your mouth. Then, last but certainly not least, God calls us to do good to those we’re trying to forgive.
#3) Do Good To Your Enemies: In Romans 12:17-21 God tells us to do good to our enemies. This wisdom sounds crazy, and it may seem IMPOSSIBLE to do this! But, when you trust God’s word, you can obey it. See, those who have been forgiven much will forgive much. Remember what Jesus did on the Cross, forgiving YOU, a sinner, who could not pay your debt to sin. Jesus forgave you, and when you accept His forgiveness, truly forgiving others becomes possible.
STARTING THE PROCESS OF FORGIVENESS
Is there someone you need to forgive today? Choose to trust and obey God, then take these steps to forgive others. Do you need to accept the forgiveness of God? From your heart, pray this prayer: “God, forgive me. I had an inexcusable debt that I could not pay. Today, I receive what Jesus did on the Cross, and because of His sacrifice, I am free. I give you my life in return, come live inside me and give me the capacity to love the way you do.”
We would love to pray with you and support you on your spiritual journey - please send us your prayer requests at LiquidChurch.com/Prayer and our prayer teams will be praying for you all week long.