In my younger years, a person hurt me repeatedly with nasty, manipulative behavior.
I became extremely resentful toward this person, constantly ruminating about the hurt and plotting my revenge. I was miserable. Something had to change. I realized I had to forgive this person…but how?
The three little words, “I forgive you,” form a simple sentence, but doing it is one of the most powerful things we can do for someone. Forgiveness is the story of the gospel. Our heavenly Father forgave us first, so we must forgive others—readily and freely. But often, we stuff-up and then need forgiveness ourselves.
Forgiving is difficult. We think if we forgive the person for what they did to us that we are excusing their behavior and letting them off the hook. This is untrue. Forgiveness means releasing that person from a debt they can never pay. They can never turn back time and change the past.
Forgiving doesn’t mean we must continue to have a relationship with the offender. If a person continually re-offends, they destroy our trust, and we may become wary of them. This is okay. We forgive, but we must ask the Lord for wisdom when it comes to giving the person another chance and mending the relationship. We may need to restrict or sever all contact.
The Bible instructs us not to remember the former things nor ponder the things of the past. Forgiveness leaves the wrong done in the past where it belongs. It no longer exists in our reality—only as a memory. When we refuse to forgive, we allow the mere memory of a painful past event to hurt us over and over again.
Do yourself a favor. Leave those painful memories behind, press forward, and remember the lessons learned.
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