This theological groundwork must be laid before we can ever get to the practical steps of forgiveness because it is crucial to the process. God has called us to forgive, and God does not ever call us to do something He is not also fully capable of bringing about through His power, for His glory, and for our good. If God has called us to forgive, then we can know it is possible through Him. When we are weak, we know that He is strong (2 Cor. 12:9). We can do all things He has called us to do because He is our strength (Phil. 4:13). The true hero of this story is the Lord God.
We also know that in all things, God’s way is the best way for us to live. As David proclaimed in Psalm 119:93, “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” God’s laws, His ways, bring life. To conform our ways to His ways means living the fullest life possible. We can know no joy, no contentment, and no peace outside of the ways of God.
When we withhold forgiveness, we rob ourselves of the full life God offers. An unforgiving heart is a heart shackled to the past, chained to bitterness and resentment. An unforgiving heart is a heart that cannot fully realize the goodness, grace, and gift of
salvation. An unforgiving heart is also a heart that cannot enter into real, genuine relationship with others.
But when we forgive, we participate in the sufferings of Christ and know the costliness of loving broken people. A heart that forgives is a heart that truly realizes the benefits of Christ’s salvation, experiencing the peace and the joy God has already made available to His children. A heart that forgives is a heart that discovers a deeper life, a fuller freedom. A heart that forgives is also a heart that is able to live genuinely and vulnerably with others.
Forgiveness is not only possible through God; forgiveness also makes possible the life God has for us. We forgive because God has forgiven us, and we forgive because God’s ways are always better than our own. Once we grasp these truths about why we forgive, we are now able to move forward into the more practical, pragmatic steps of how we forgive.
1. DID A SITUATION OR PERSON COME TO MIND WHICH REQUIRES YOUR FORGIVENESS? WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM FINDING FREEDOM IN THIS SITUATION THROUGH FORGIVING THE ONE WHO HAS HURT YOU?
2. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF FORGIVING OTHERS? 3. HOW DOES UNDERSTANDING WHY WE FORGIVE HELP US BEGIN TO DISCERN HOW TO FORGIVE?