by Rick Warren — March 17, 2021
From The Seven Greatest Words of Love
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)
As a follower of Jesus, you need to understand forgiveness. The Bible clearly calls Christians to forgive. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (NIV).
So, if God expects you to forgive others, what does healthy, biblical forgiveness look like? Here are four things you should do when you need to forgive someone.
1. Recognize no one is perfect. When you hate somebody, you tend to lose your perspective about that person. Resentment, bitterness, and hurt make you stop seeing that person as a fellow human being. You treat them like an animal. But the truth is everyone is in the same boat. The Bible says, “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT). We’re all imperfect.
2. Relinquish your right to get even. This is the heart of forgiveness. The Bible says, “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (Romans 12:19 TLB). Even if you think you deserve to retaliate, don’t. If the hurt runs deep, you may have to commit over and over again to not getting even. But, no matter what, leave the repayment to God.
3. Respond to evil with good. Humanly speaking, it’s nearly impossible to respond to evil with good. You’ll need God’s help. You’ll need the love of Jesus to fill you up. Why? “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). When you can respond to evil with good, you’ll know you’ve fully released someone from the wrong they’ve done to you.
4. Refocus on God’s plan for your life. As long as you continue to focus on the person who has hurt you, that person controls you. In fact, it often goes a step further: If you don’t release your offender, you will begin to resemble your offender. So stop focusing on the hurt and the person who hurt you. Instead, refocus on God’s purpose for your life—his purpose is greater than any problem or pain you might be facing.
Don’t sit another day in your resentment. If you’ve been holding on to pain caused by someone else, go through these four steps and move on to the life you were created to live!