Forgiving Others: A Few Practical Steps
The call to forgive those who wrong us is a journey of into the gospel of Jesus through the power of the Spirit. We find the strength to truly forgive when we press more and more into the gospel truth of the forgiveness of sins that we’ve received through Jesus. This is a journey of time and time again breathing in the grace of Jesus so that we can breathe out forgiveness to those who wrong us.
This guide is designed to go along with the sermon on Forgiveness, preached by Joe Byler at the Short North congregation on Feb 10, 2019.
Here are a few practical steps on this journey:
1.) Recognize and validate the pain
Often the things we’re called to forgive may be incredibly painful. We need to start with recognizing and validating the pain and hurt that comes from how we’ve been wronged and sinned against. We often struggle to forgive because it’s really painful and hard and the wounds are deep and life-altering. So we have to start, not by trying to forget or “get over” the pain, but simply acknowledge the pain.
In this, we can look to Jesus – who draws near to us in our suffering, who suffered himself along with us so that by his wounds, we might be healed. He invites us to draw near to him, to draw near to his grace, and to find comfort and healing in his grace.
2.) Acknowledge the weight of your own personal sin
Realize that you actually have a lot in common with the person who has wronged you. We may not have hurt or wronged that specific person or wronged others in the same way or to the same level, but in other ways, we have wronged others, we have hurt others, and we have sinned against God. We are all broken and wounded and have hurt each other.
3.) Marvel at the forgiveness of Jesus
Remember with joy the grace and mercy and forgiveness that we’ve received through faith in Jesus and his work on the cross. Our debt of sin has been paid in full! There remains for those who are in Christ NO condemnation for our sin! We stand completely forgiven at the cross! This is our model and our motivation to forgive! Draw near to Jesus, stand free in this grace and in his comforting presence!
4.) Rest in God’s complete sovereignty
We don’t know why sin and brokenness have to happen like this and affect us. We may not know the “why” in this, but we do know that God is in complete and utter control – that he is working all things for his glory and our ultimate good. We can rest in his sovereign wisdom and power and care and steadfast love.
5.) Rejoice in the privilege of forgiving
We can rejoice in the privilege of forgiving others! The freedom that is experienced in saying “I forgive you” to someone is amazing! Sometimes this starts with an act of obedience – even if we don’t feel like forgiving. Sometimes this involves telling the person, especially if they’ve asked for forgiveness, other times it starts in prayer between you and God. But we need to recognize that being able to forgive is an amazing and freeing gift from God.
When we forgive others, we are magnifying the power and glory of Jesus! We are declaring the gospel truth of God’s redemptive work – the power of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. It’s a privilege to be able to extend to others the magnificent forgiveness that we’ve received from Jesus.
by Joe Byler
Adapted from Erik Raymond’s “Common Questions Christians Ask: Forgiveness” article on The Gospel Coalition.