How do we forgive when we don’t want to?


Do you find it difficult to forgive? You are not alone.

It’s easy to forgive the person who steps on your toe in the elevator, but what about forgiving the person who shaped your life by their abuse when you were a child, or forgiving the husband who cheated on you, ruining your dreams of a happy marriage?

Forgiveness seems to be so hard for us, and yet it is the requirement for God forgiving us. 

In a research survey, 80% of people interviewed said they had learned from their parents how and when it is appropriate to forgive. Natalie responded in one of these interviews that her mom had never apologized or asked for forgiveness and said she was the same way.

We are obligated to learn the grace of forgiveness for the sake of our children and grandchildren, as well as for our own salvation.

How can we forgive?

As C.S. Lewis says:

Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.

God wants to save us from ourselves—from the weight that unforgiveness adds to our souls.

Recall Proverbs 4:24 that says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”. 

Here are 3 signs that show we need to forgive:

  1. When we can’t think about the person without strong negative emotion
  2. When we lie awake at night thinking of revenge or self-defense
  3. When we rehearse the incidents relating to this person over in our head

It is the grace of God, working in our life that empowers us to truly forgive.

Jesus taught a parable on forgiving the debts of others and emphasized forgiveness as being vital when Peter asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” – Matthew 18:21-22

How do we forgive?

  1. Recall the goodness of God and how He has forgiven us
  2. Pray a prayer: Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive (and insert the person’s name here) ___________ who has trespassed against me (Matthew 6:12).
  3. Write a letter to the person who has offended you pouring out all your emotions and keep writing till the emotion is spent. Then write across the letter “DEBT PAID IN FULL” and tear it up.
  4. Refuse to dwell on the person’s deed towards you, and keep bringing your thoughts back to these 3 previous actions you have taken.
  5. Finally, refuse to speak badly of the person, to gossip or to say caustic remarks about them.

This will aid in pressing the reset button in your heart towards God and towards your hurt.

Question: What else has helped you to forgive?

Alison Ward

Alison is married to Steve; they have two married daughters, and five grandchildren, and live in Gauteng, South Africa. She has pastored with her husband for thirty-three years, has a nursing background, and recently completed a master’s degree in leadership and coaching. Alison is passionate about teaching the Bible and partnering with women to fulfill their gifts and potential.


2016-02-15T12:39:41+00:00 February 15th, 2016|Categories: Forgiveness, Heart Issues|Tags: |0 Comments

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