Three Steps In Christian Forgiveness
If you are asking yourself: How do Christians forgive? Jesus provided the answer. In the book of Luke, Chapter 6 verses 27 and 28, Jesus said, (27) “But I say to you who hear. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (28) bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you,” and at Matthew chapter 5 verses 43 and 44, (43) “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” (44) “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you.” These verses are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.
“The essence of Christian life is love, with the general principles stated in Luke 6:31. This love is manifested by responding to personal insult and injustice, not with retaliation or even passive endurance, but with positive and aggressive acts of goodness designed to redeem offenders.” The preceding quotation is the footnote to Chapter 6 verses 27-28 of the book of Luke found in the New Spirit Filled Life Bible New King James Version. The quotation is a mouthful because it describes how Jesus related to us as He walked on this earth as incarnate (God in the form of man) man.
What steps do I take to forgive as Christ would have me forgive? In these two verses Jesus tells us three ways:
(1) The first is to do good things for the person who has wronged you. (Luke 6:27 and Matthew 5:44) Christianity is all about restoration and redemption. Restore and redeem your relationship, your friendship, with someone who has wronged you. Help them fill a need or take the trash can in for them. Kindness cures. In God’s economy, in relation to your relationship with Him, it is all about what you do to restore and redeem a fractured relationship and has nothing to do with how your actions are received.
(2) The second is to bless him. (Luke 6:28 and Matthew 5:44) This is simply saying good things about someone who has wronged you. It is hard to say good things about someone who has wronged you. This does not mean to lie about them being a wonderful person. It merely means that if you find yourself in a situation where you must talk about the person who wronged you, only share their positive character traits with others.
(3) The third way is to pray for them. (Luke 6:28 and Matthew 5:44) As Christians we believe that God can do anything, yet, I suspect, God is called upon very little to restore fractured relationships. The importance of praying for someone who has wronged you is that you are demonstrating to God that you genuinely care for God’s order of the universe by obeying Him. The second benefit is that every time you pray for the person who has wronged you, you are working closer to confessing and being delivered from the sin of failing to forgive. Refusing to forgive someone is sin because God told us we must forgive.
Next week, I will share what the Bible says about our physical relationship with the person who has wronged us: How should we receive the person who has wronged us? How does trust relate to forgiveness?
(32) And the Scribe said to Him (Jesus), “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that He (God) is one and there is no other besides Him. (33) And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself (emphasis added), is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” If you wronged someone, wouldn’t you want them to forgive you?