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Choosing to Forgive

Posted: Jul 27, 2015 by Pastor Bob Graham

Published in: Lessons for Life

Ephesians 4:32

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

         In this verse we find a truth with amazing power to set one free. Jesus warned us that in this life, offences would come; He also taught us how to deal with them and forgiveness is at the heart of His teaching. Forgiveness does not change what happened in the past, but it certainly can make a tremendous difference in your future. Forgiveness does not excuse the behavior of an offender, but it does prevent their behavior from destroying your heart.  

     What does it mean to forgive? The Greek word “aphiemi” means to let go, to send forth, to yield up, to release. This involves a deliberate choice on the part of the offended. It takes a strong person to say, “I’m sorry”, but an even stronger person to forgive. Biblical forgiveness is not a feeling, but rather a promise you are making not to hold someone’s past sins against them.  

     As believers we have a superlative example of what it is to forgive in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even amid the hateful accusations of those who sought to destroy Him, He looked to heaven and asked that God forgive them. This was not an occasional act on the part of our Lord, it was the very attitude of His heart. And by the grace of God, it can be ours as well.

     What does forgiveness look like? In his book “Peacemaking for Families”, author Ken Sande proposes four concrete promises we should make when we tell someone we forgive them.

  1. I will no longer think about this incident.
  2. I will not bring up this incident again to use against you.
  3. I will not talk to others about this incident.
  4. I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

     Regardless of how painful the offense may have been, by making these promises – and keeping them – we can, with God’s help, demonstrate the forgiveness and reconciliation God offered us at the cross. As you can see, forgiveness is a choice to set a prisoner free, and what you will soon discover is that it was YOU who was the prisoner.