We all know we need to forgive, but how do you know whom you really need to forgive? Some people might be obvious, while others may not. The best way to discern it is to sit down in a quiet place with a pen and pad of paper. Then pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the people you need to forgive. God has a much better memory than you do and wants you to experience your freedom in Christ. As He begins to show you who you need to forgive, write down these three things.
- What is the name of the person who offended you? (Don’t leave God off or even yourself if needed.)
- What exactly did that person do to offend you? (List the actual thing the person did to you.)
- How did that make you feel then or even now? (It might be anger, hurt, betrayal, bitterness, resentment, abuse, etc. It’s essential to express your emotions to forgive from your heart.)
This exercise may take a while, even a few days. Once you have written all this down, keep it in a private place since this is between you and God and no one else.
Then, select each person one by one and use the following prayer as a guide to forgive the individuals:
“Father, I am coming to you now to forgive ____________. He/She did this to me: ___________________________________, and I feel __________________.
__________ doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. But, I didn’t deserve your forgiveness either. Yet, you forgave me for all my sins when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I forgive because you tell me to forgive even as you totally forgave me in Christ. I also realize I am a forgiver through my identity in Christ. I choose to forgive __________ even though I do not feel like it. I release this person from what they owe me, which was/is ______________________.
I’m sorry for my sin(s) of anger/bitterness/revenge towards __________. I thank you that Jesus Christ died on the cross for this sin so that I am already forgiven. I choose to trust You and to believe that You can use this to reveal Jesus Christ in me in a deeper way. In His Name, Amen.”
You can pray this prayer for each person God showed you to forgive. Fill in the blanks with what you need to write to forgive every person on your list.
So, when are you going to get alone and forgive the people God wants you to forgive? Today? Tonight? Tomorrow. You see, if you don’t plan when you are going to forgive, you probably will not do this. And don’t wait until you feel like it because that can prevent you from doing this by faith.
Don’t forget that you are a forgiver in Christ. God tells you to forgive because it is who you are as one of His sons or daughters. That is what obedience to God is. It’s living like who we are in Christ for our good and His glory. He knows what is best for us!
(C) God’s Best-Kept Secret: Christianity is Easier than You Think, Mark Maulding, Chapter 9, “Christians Will Not Feel Free Unless they Forgive,” pages 147-163.