How to Forgive

Forgiveness is described as letting go of ill feelings caused by someone who has trespassed against you. This is something that many people have struggled to do since the world began. Oftentimes people will seek speedy forgiveness for themselves but are slow to forgive others. The Lord Jesus has prescribed a plan for forgiveness that involves individuals forgiving others, to receive forgiveness for themselves. The example on how to forgive others is Jesus Christ. The three main points to forgive are: our example of forgiveness, why we should forgive, and practical methods to forgiveness.

The first point to consider in how to forgive is our example of forgiveness, which is Jesus Christ. The scripture declare Him to be our example because he suffered for us, did no sin, and no guile was found in his mouth (I Peter 2:21, 22). When Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples and Pilate had delivered Jesus to be crucified, he was beaten and mocked by the soldiers (Mark 15:15-23). In the midst of his crucifixion, He prayed for His crucifiers saying, Father forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). He did not wait for their apology nor did he wait for them to finish crucifying him, He prayed for their forgiveness during the crucifixion. This example shows us that we can forgive those who have not asked for forgiveness. After considering our example of forgiveness in Jesus Christ, we should examine why we should forgive.

Free ourselves from the bondage

We should forgive others to allow our own forgiveness and free ourselves from the bondage of anger associated with unwillingness to forgive. If we cannot forgive others, the sins and unrighteous deeds we have done toward others will come up in the Day of Judgment. The Lord taught his disciples to pray, according to Matthew 6:9-15. 9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. The scriptures declares that all have sinned and come short to the glory of God (Romans 3:23). With the aforementioned scripture noted, it is understood that we all need forgiveness of sins and should stand ready to forgive others as the Lord forgives us. We have been instructed to be angry and not sin and go on to put anger away.

 (Eph 4:31-32). 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. With these thoughts in mind we should begin considering some practical methods for forgiveness.

Some practical methods to lead to forgiveness include: writing, meditating, and praying. Elder Battle of the True Church of God in Christ has suggested that people who need to forgive someone should write. They should write the names of people and events that have caused pain and hurt. Then write on this document I forgive you, sign, date, and destroy the document. This document is not for sharing with others, but a method of releasing the desire for justice and revenge.

Letting go of animosity

Another method to aid in the forgiveness process is meditating on forgiveness. To meditate is to plan or project in the mind by focusing your thought on forgiveness. Elder Battle suggests making a habit of meditating and saying in your mind the following: God I’m sorry, please forgive me, and I love you. As you meditate on your forgiveness, remember your forgiveness is tied to your ability to forgive.

The power of prayer is a key method to forgiveness. Prayer is an earnest request and has been described as a sincere desire of the heart. The Lord prescribed that we pray for them that despitefully use and persecute us (Matt 5:44). When praying for someone your attitude must be adjusted toward this person for God looks on the heart of men. God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. The heart must be adjusted in favor of your enemies to have a proper prayer for them. The Lord said, when you stand praying, forgive (Mark 11:25-26).

In summary, forgiveness is described as letting go of animosity caused by someone who has trespassed against you. Although people have struggled to forgive those who may have trespassed, the Lord has prescribed a plan for forgiveness that involves individuals forgiving others. Jesus Christ forgave those who crucified Him, while they were doing so and without an apology from them. The key points to show us how to forgive are Jesus as our example of forgiveness, forgiving to be forgiven and practical methods to forgiveness. When we forgive we free ourselves from the bondage of anger and sin of our past.