“Whatever your situation, whatever has happened in your past, remember that you are the loser if you do not deal with an unforgiving spirit. And the people around you suffer, too. You have within you the power to forgive, to be healed, and to be set free to live your life to the fullest.” This is on the back jacket to Dr. Stanley’s book, Put the past behind you and give…
The Gift of Forgiveness. [part 2]
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Dr. Stanley writes, “If we refuse to deal with the bitterness and resentments that put us in bondage, we cannot have the fellowship with our Father that we are supposed to have.” (see page 124) He also continues, on page 126, “I rarely counsel people to confess their forgiveness to those who have hurt them if the other persons have not asked for it…God forgave us long before we ever asked for it…He has forgiven us of things we will never ask forgiveness for. In the same way, we are free to forgive others of things they will never know about.”
Forgiveness is an act of the will that involves five stages:
- We must recognize that we have been totally forgiven. (Romans 6:10)
- Release the person from the debt we think is owed us for the offense.
- Accept others as they are and release them from any responsibility to meet our needs.
- View those we have forgiven as tools in our lives to aid us in our growth in and understanding of the grace of God. (Genesis 50:19-21)
- Make reconciliation with those from whom we have been estranged.
Forgiveness is an act of the will… Forgiveness is for our benefit. The other person’s behavior may never change. It is up to God, not us to change that person. It is our responsibility to be set free from the pressure and weight of an unforgiving attitude.
We will know we have forgiven when…
Several things will occur once the forgiveness process is complete. First, our negative feelings will disappear. We will not feel the way we used to feel when we run into these people on the street or in the office. Harsh feelings may be replaced by feelings of concern, pity, or empathy, but not resentment.
Secondly, we will find it much easier to accept the people who have hurt us without feeling the need to change them; we will be willing to take them just the way they are. We will have a new appreciation for their situation once the blinders of resentment have been removed from our eyes. We will understand more why they acted and continue to act the way they do.
Third, our concern about the needs of the other individuals will outweigh our concerns about what they did to us. We will be able to concentrate on them, not on ourselves or our needs.
Forgiveness is a process that can be painful and at times seem unending…We must get involved with the process of forgiving others and find out what it means to be really free. If we will persevere and keep our eyes on the One who forgave us, it will be a liberating force like nothing else we have ever experienced.
Forgiveness is complete when we have experienced the forgiveness of God; we can forgive others who have wronged us; we are able to forgive ourselves.