Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to achieve without God's strength. It doesn't come easily for most of us. We have a natural instinct of self-protection. Protection from hurt feelings, anger, confusion, betrayal, etc. We aren't naturally full of mercy, grace, & forgiveness when we are disappointed or feel wronged. But God has commanded us:
"Forgive as the Lord forgave you"
Colossians 3:13a (NIV)
How do we forgive? Forgiveness is a choice we make that is motivated by obedience to God. We need to forgive by faith, out of obedience - whether we feel like it or not. We need to surrender our feelings to God, ask Him, & trust Him to do the work in us that needs to be done to forgive.
"being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
How do you know if you have really forgiven? Corrie ten Boom is quoted as saying, "Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, & to realize the prisoner was you." I think that we know that forgiveness is complete when we experience freedom from the betrayal. That the betrayal really doesn't matter to us anymore.
I have found that prayer is the best way to breakdown the wall of unforgiveness. Before i started writing today, i prayed - again - about the situation that has been eating at me. God gave me new eyes to view this situation with. And a new heart to care for that person. I am not without sin & i know that God forgives me. And although it is perfectly normal to feel anger toward sin & injustice, it's not our job to judge.
"Do not judge, & you will not be judges. Do not condemn, & you will not be condemned. Forgive & you will be forgiven."
Luke 6:37 (NIV)
"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may for give your sins."
Mark 11:25 (NIV)
Yesterday morning, on Facebook, a friend posted this:
Anyone can hold a grudge by it takes a person with character to forgive. When you forgive, you release yourself from a painful burden. Forgiveness doesn't mean what happened was ok & it doesn't mean that person should still be welcome in your life. It just means you have made peace with the pain & are ready to let go."
I'm ready to let go. I hope & pray that you are too.