Step Seven in Forgiving Others: Abide
Forgiveness can be an ongoing process. When we have forgiven someone for an offense, sometimes our feelings return. A wound from the past can remain sensitive.
I’ve noticed three ways for handling lingering forgiveness issues and learning to abide in my forgiveness – the place of the will, a lie of the devil, and a supernatural enabling.
(1) Repeatedly I may have to say to God: “Father, I don’t want to hold onto these feelings of anger or resentment. I have surrendered this matter to you. I’ve forgiven that person. And I’m seeking to maintain a spirit of forgiveness toward them. Now please take care of my feelings.”
This is where we learn that forgiveness is centered in our wills. We chose to forgive, no longer hold the offense against the person anymore, and trust God to take care of our feelings.
(2) Sometimes when memories of a difficult situation return, Satan is the one condemning us. He whispers, “See, you didn’t really forgive that person.”
We need to discern that lie. We forgave but our emotions have returned, and Satan is taking advantage of us. We need only remind ourselves and talk back to the devil, “No, I did forgive that person. And God forgave me for my anger and my resentment. Get away from me, you liar!”
(3) Once I’ve forgiven a person, I’ve also prayed for a supernatural enabling. “Father, I can’t change how I think and feel about this person. But you can change me on the inside. Give me a supernatural love for this person.”
Amazingly, after I’ve prayed this way, when I’ve seen that offending person again, I have felt a genuine supernatural love flowing from deep within me toward that person.
Forgiveness can be a continuing process. Without excusing an offense or tolerating wrongful behavior, we forgive and we keep forgiving. Like the ocean tide, anger and resentment recedes and a supernatural love rises.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus forgave the criminals for mocking him. He forgave the religious leaders for condemning him. He forgave Pilate for sentencing him. He forgave the crowd for insulting him. He forgave the Roman soldiers for crucifying him.
Jesus maintained his forgiving attitude throughout.
Action Step: Forgive and keep forgiving from your heart.
~ Pastor Dave