You’re starting to get bitter. For months now you’ve worked hard at your new job, but your supervisor doesn’t seem to like you. At review time, you were overlooked for a raise. Your bonus was given to others instead…but not to you. When you try to talk to your boss, he never has time to meet with you.
God doesn’t want you to stay angry. He wants you to forgive. But how can you do that? How can you apply God’s Word to your situation?
Words That Bring Freedom
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions (Mark 11:25).
Forgiving others is vital to the spiritual health of every believer. It is an important aspect of God’s plan to conform His children to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. When we forgive, we are freed from destructive attitudes such as anger and bitterness. We reflect the love of our heavenly Father to an unbelieving world so that they might be drawn to Christ.
Why Forgiveness Is Possible
God calls us to practice forgiveness continually. This can be a challenge for us because it goes against human nature. When we’re hurt and angry because of the cruel words or actions of others, forgiveness may seem impossible, but our Father assures us it’s not. He has already given us everything we need to live a godly life.
The God of Love doesn’t just tell us to forgive. He sent His Son to demonstrate what forgiveness looks like. Jesus is our Example to follow. He willingly laid down His life for us and He forgave our sin.
The God of Grace doesn’t expect us to be able to forgive using our own abilities. He knew we would need His help. That’s why He gives the Holy Spirit to live in us when we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are baptized. The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us the power to forgive.
In Luke chapter 6, Jesus gives us “rules for living in the Kingdom of God”. He lists some specific actions to take toward those who mistreat us. His instructions reveal a powerful key to forgiving others.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
Love those who are your enemies, those who hate you, those who curse you, those who mistreat you. Do good to them. Bless them. Pray for them. These all go against human nature, but as we step out in faith to obey, even when we don’t feel like it, God will provide His power to help us. The Holy Spirit within us will pour out the love of God into our heart so we can truly forgive.
Simple Steps To A Forgiving Heart
So what are the keys to forgiving?
Being willing to forgive is a first step. We may need to go to God’s throne of grace to ask for help with this (Hebrews 4:16), and our first prayer may be, “Lord, please help me be willing to be willing!” To soften our heart, God may remind us of times when we mistreated others and needed forgiveness. He may lead us to meditate on the tremendous price His Son paid on the cross so we could be forgiven.
There is something else we can do that will help turn our heart in the right direction: Step out in faith, open our mouth, and begin to pray for the person(s) who wronged us. Not just once or twice, but every time we remember the offense…as many times as it takes for our heart to change.
We can pray for them to see the offense and to know it hurt us. We can pray for them to know Jesus and to have a revelation of God’s love if they don’t know Him. As we pray, God’s grace will flow, enabling us to truly forgive. One of my friends prayed like this for a person who had wronged her. She was surprised that she actually grew to like him, and they became friends.
I have a friend who has a very effective way of praying when she is mistreated. “Lord,” she prays, ”please bless (name of the offender) as if he/she had said kind words that brought You glory. Please bless (name) as if he/she had acted lovingly, in a manner that pleased You.” Then she asks the Lord to show her what the person needs or desires, and prays for those blessings in their life. She also asks the Lord to forgive them.
By praying in this way, my friend puts into practice the words of Jesus in Luke 6 above. She is loving those who mistreated her, doing good to them, and blessing them. With the focus on God’s purposes, grace flows. Anger and hurt give way to compassion. She is able to forgive those who hurt her.
It’s Worth It!
We need to find practical ways to love, bless, and do good to those who mistreat us. Praying for them is a powerful key to forgiveness we cannot overlook. If we yield to the Holy Spirit within us and obey what God is saying to do, we will be freed from an unforgiving heart. Mark 11:25 (above) says that our Heavenly Father will forgive us. He will bless us in other ways as well.
But love your enemies, and do good… and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Luke 6:35
There are many more aspects of forgiveness we could talk about here, such as how do you know for sure you’ve forgiven someone, and does God want you to trust the person again. I’ll be writing about these things in the future. Join our email list to get this information as it comes out. Use the form on this page to sign up to receive our blog and updates.“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation.” Copyright 2013 Word For Life Publishing, LLC