How to Forgive

This past Sunday, I preached on forgiveness. Forgiveness is right at the heart of Christianity. We forgive because we are forgiven. But the question of how to forgive comes to mind. How do we actually forgive someone that has hurt or offended us? What do we do practically?

We create a Discipleship Making Guide (DMG) as a resource to help fuel our times with Jesus and to use as a guide to make disciples. In the Relationships DMG, there is a section on just that; how to forgive. At the beginning, there is a list of scriptures on forgiveness with some follow-up questions to help you gain God's heart on forgiveness. Followed by the initial scriptures and questions, there is an opportunity to ask the Father who He wants you to forgive and then a prayer to actual practice forgiveness.

Forgiveness and Anger in Relationships

Ephesians 4:26-27
    [26] Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, [27] and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:30-32
    [30] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [31] Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. [32] Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

James 1:19-20
    [19] Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;  [20] for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Matthew 6:9-15
    [9] Pray then like this; "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. [10] Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. [11] Give us this day our daily bread, [12] and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. [13] And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [14] For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, [15] but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

Answer these questions:

  1. Did anything in these passages capture your attention? What did you like about these passages?
  2. What do these passages tell us about God?
  3. What do these passages tell us about man and our response to God?
  4. Forgiveness is the antidote to anger. What does God expect us to do with anger we get from relationships
  5. What questions come to mind?
  6. If the scriptures I read are true, how do I obey them and live them out?

How to forgive:

The following passage and exercises will help you handle the anger that can come from broken relationships. Forgiveness is the foundation for our relationship with God (Colossians 2:13-15). Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It takes the person who hurt you off of your "hook" and places them on God's. Unforgiveness poisons our hearts and hurts those around us (Hebrews 12:15). The question is - who does God want you to forgive? Let's ask Him!

Ask God: Father is there anyone you want me to forgive? If so, whom and for what? (write and journal any thoughts or feelings or pictures you get)

A prayer of forgiveness: Father, thank you for your compassion and care for me. Thank you that in Christ you forgive me of all my sins and remember them no more. Because of the cross of Christ, you don't hold my sin against me. Therefore...

I choose to forgive __________ for __________. By the grace of God, I chose to let go of my anger and hurt and place this person in your care. I chose to no longer hold a grudge against them.

Ask God: Is there anything you want me to know right now?

If you want more info on our Discipleship Making Guide (DMG), contact Rachel Clarke. We are indebted to our friends at Center for Relational Care. They taught us much on how to practically obey scripture and handle our emotions.