...forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
I realized a hard truth the other day. Everytime I pray the Lord's Prayer, I've technically made an agreement with God...
"...and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us...."
"As" could have one of two meanings here: "while we forgive" or "in the same way that we forgive"
Either way, when I apply it to my life, all I have to say is "Ouch!"
But exactly how do I forgive?
Forgiveness isn't just "wave the magic wand" and the transgressor is forgiven. Forgiveness means giving up your right for revenge and letting God be God, even in this circumstance. Forgiveness does not mean "no consequences"—the transgressor will reap from the sin he sowed. Anyone who's been a believer very long at all knows that God can deal with a sinner better than we ever can!
Also, "I forgive" does not mean "I blindly trust". The transgessor needs to do whatever it takes to try to prove to you that you can begin to trust him again. Depending on how serious the breach of trust, he may need some accountability with a godly, more mature Christian.
Forgiveness is hard, and it's an ongoing process, like dieting.
Here's what I mean.... If you're on a diet, there are certain things you've decided it wouldn't be good for you to eat. It would be great if you could swear off those foods, never crave them again, and instantly the weight would fall off! Unfortunately, that's not how it works. Your human nature is drawn to those "bad foods" and you cave. You eat a big bowl of ice cream.
Does that mean you immediately gain back every pound you've lost? Does it mean that dieting doesn't work for you and you'll never lose the weight? Of course not! It means a glitch that exists in the mind of every human tripped you up. You get up, dust yourself off, and recommit to losing weight!
Now here's how I see that it's the same.... If you've decided to forgive someone, you've decided that there are ceertain thoughts and feelings it wouldn't be good for you to have toward that person. It would be great if you could swear off those thoughts, never have them again, and instantly the relationship would be restored! Unfortunately, that's not how it works. Your human nature is drawn to those unforgiving thoughts, and you cave. You throw yourself a pity party and rehearse the whole scenario again in your mind.
Does that mean the relationship is immediately back where it was the day you were sinned against? Does it mean that forgiveness doesn't work for you and you'll never be able to forgive them? Of course not! It means a glitch that exists in the mind of every human tripped you up. You get up, dust yourself off, and recommit to forgiving!
When the time comes that you're ready to try forgiveness, something that can help is to learn and quote Bible verses when you're tempted to be unforgiving. I would suggest you memorize these two, for starters:
Ephesians 4:32 (New Living Translation)
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
2 Corinthians 10:5 (New American Standard Bible)
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
OK, now who do you need to forgive?