The operational definition of forgiveness is “clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me.” In a world filled with sin and conflict, offenses are inevitable. One key God gives for unity is forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean you ignore an offender’s sin or waive the consequences. However, it does mean that you make a deliberate decision to let go of any bitter or vengeful feelings toward the one who has wronged you. Whether or not he repents, you choose to forgive him, thereby clearing the record of his wrong against you. “Clearing the record” means you choose to forget his offense and love him as God enables you, despite the pain that he caused you.
The opposite of forgiveness is rejection. When people wrong you, your natural response is to retaliate or to hurt them in return. You want them to pay for what they did. You may lash out in angry words or actions. You may avoid them. Perhaps you say nothing, giving them the “silent treatment.” You may tell others, hoping they will turn against your offenders, too. These responses are all forms of rejection, springing from an unforgiving heart. With those reactions, you are putting yourself in God’s place and acting as judge over your offenders, deciding and carrying out their penalties! God wants you to trust Him as Judge. Instead of reacting, seek to meet the needs of the ones who hurt you. You cannot prevent wrongs, but you can know that when they happen, God will enable you to respond with forgiveness and not with revenge or rejection.
- Have I purposed in my heart to trust God at all times, even when I am wronged by another?
- Do I think that forgiving an offender will encourage him to do wrong again, or do I trust that God will deal with my offender?
- Do I inwardly hope that my offenders are punished, or do I sincerely pray for their restoration?
- Am I harboring any negative attitudes toward others due to unresolved past hurts?
- Have I looked for ways to do good to those who have wronged me?
- When a believer offends me, do I understand that forgiveness is essential to unity in the Body of Christ?
- Is there anyone who can say that I offended them and never tried to make it right?
- Do I humbly pray for God’s grace to admit my failures and ask others to forgive me?
More About Forgiveness
God enables me to:
Clear the record.
Ask for forgiveness.
Thank Him in suffering.
Acknowledge my sin.
Be quick to forgive.
Not seek revenge.
Respond kindly to those who hurt me.
Strive for unity.
Forgiveness in Scripture
Joseph’s Unexpected Response to His Brothers
Revealed in Nature
Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum
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Free Resources for Forgiveness
Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!