Only God can forgive and forget.[i] If you can forgive easily, you have not been wounded deeply.[ii] Consequently, forgiveness is a process, not an event. Without going into detail, I am forgiving two people for their actions toward me from 1976. Today in 2013 I think of them maybe once or twice a year, but for years the struggle was hard as I worked to forgive them. Even while writing this I am having to go back through the process of forgiving them again… and I’m glad. Let me explain.
I take seriously Jesus’ command to forgive as proof I’ve been forgiven.[iii] If I will not forgive, it proves I have not been forgiven.[iv] Because God through Jesus has forgiven me of transgressions that far surpass anything anyone has or can ever do to me, how can I do anything but forgive others? Forgiveness is God’s chosen means by which restoration and reconciliation takes place. Forgiveness is the language of heaven and I want to speak it as often as I can. Every time I have to forgive it reminds me I have been forgiven by God and therefore I can forgive.
Then there is the element of ongoing forgiveness I have learned to enjoy. When I must go through the process of continuing to forgive anyone, I talk at the Adversary. I do this because I want him to be reminded of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I want him to be reminded I have been forgiven and my name is written in heaven. I want him to experience failure, again. So here’s what I do when past hurts tempt me to become bitter. I say in my mind, and sometimes out loud, the following…
Listen Satan. Because I’ve been forgiven by God through Jesus, my name is written down in heaven. There is therefore no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus and there is nothing you can do about it. It is impossible for you to separate me from the love of God. Because Jesus has forgiven me I am able to… and will continue to forgive this person. If you remind me every hour, you will hear me forgive them every time. Every time you bring this person to my mind, you will hear me forgive them. The more often you remind me of them and what they did, the more I will be reminded to ask God to bless them and reveal Himself to them. As often as you want to be reminded of Jesus’ power through His resurrection feel free to remind me about that person and what they did.
That may sound odd or unusual, but I have found myself comforted and strengthened when I keep on forgiving as Jesus commands.[v] James was right when he wrote in James 4:7-8, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” I have found a wonderful way to apply this passage is through the process of forgiving. May God give you the same peace and joy through forgiving others. Satan’s Achilles Heel is forgiveness!
[i] Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12, 10:15-17
[ii] Miroslav Volf, “Exclusion and Embrace.”
[iii] Matthew 6:14-15, 18:32-35
[iv] Ephesians 4:32
[v] Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4