The Wonder of Forgiveness!
You might find yourself looking to be forgiving or being asked for it by someone close to you, how do you approach this? Does the Bible provide any guidance on repairing hurt when trust is broken?
One of the most famous prayers in the Bible (often called the Lord’s Prayer) underscores the important as it states ‘if you do not forgive others, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you’ (Matt. 6:15; Mark 11:25). This means it is important topic for us to think about. Here are a few thoughts (amongst many) found in the Bible on the process of forgiveness.
Start with Acknowledgement
If you want to begin the process of forgiveness, then you need to be clear about what has happened. Acknowledgement is not an apology; it is an unreserved statement of responsibility to the wrong.
A good example is King David in Psalm 32:1-5 he unreservedly acknowledges his sin. On the other hand, Adam in the Garden of Eden first tried to excuse or rationalise his actions Genesis 3:9-12.
Express the desire to change and restore
After acknowledgement, the desire to restore the relationship needs to be communicated i.e. it is for a purpose. The goal is to be made whole again – this may happen sooner or later.
There is an example of this in the Prodigal Son, who returns home because he wants to be restored as part of the family but first acknowledged what he has done. This can be found in Luke 15:15-23
Know that while the past may be put behind, the relationship still needs work
Can someone forgive and forget? Sometimes hurt has long term consequences that cannot be forgotten because it has changed the day-to-day. As part of forgiveness it can be appropriate to set and accept boundaries so a trusting relationship can have the space to flourish again.
When King David sinned one of a number of the outcomes was a child and a murder. He wrote ‘I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me’ in Psalm 51:3. He did have forgiveness from God but the nature of his day-to-day relationships changed with those around him. There could be no pretending about the way things used to be. For this reason, there is a place to put boundaries in place and have them respected.
Giving or receiving forgiveness
This may come immediately, or it might take time. Hurt needs time to heal and so those wanting forgiveness must show commitment to the process by continuing to show their desire for a restored relationship by working to restore trust.
Forgiving someone can release them from being a prisoner of their guilt. When we set them free by giving forgiveness this means we will not choose to use the past as a weapon against them.
Gods example to us is that He will not remember our sins any more (Isaiah 55:6-7) and will not continue to count it against us (Romans 8:31-39).
So if you are in place in life where forgiveness is asked of you, then beginning this process will be the start of a journey of healing trust. This is true also for the relationship God wants to have with each of us, He showed this through the life of his only son John 3:16 which is something we all need to consider if we are looking for everlasting peace and life.