What Does Forgiveness Look Like?

Welcome to day 21 of STAND OUT: 7 traits of a counter cultural life. You can find a list of every post in this series here.

Do you have a particularly difficult relationship in your life? 

I’d imagine most of us do or have. And while the particulars of these relationships may vary, one thing is likely true: we have been hurt multiple times by the person who likely is unaware or unwilling to acknowledge the hurt.

And honestly, it stinks!

Perhaps others are aware of the situation but, rather than addressing it head on, have encouraged you to be sympathetic to the individual or perhaps made excuses for the hurtful actions. While these well-meaning people intend to help, far too often they make it all hurt worse.

Sadly, I know a little bit about this type of thing. But, I suppose you probably do also.

Biblical forgiveness is often a process and takes time. Forgiveness is a rarely a "one and done" thing. Often, we have to forgive day after day, time after time.  In contemplating what the process looks like, I realized another thing about forgiveness and how to put it into practice: Forgiveness is taking a step TOWARD someone when everything in you really just wants to step AWAY.

Several months ago I was dealing with a particularly trying relationship and had just about had all I could take. I really wanted to just give up.  I’d been hurt so many times and tried and tried to forgive but it just kept happening.

In my quiet time one morning I poured out my heart to the Lord. I knew the verses about forgiving as we’ve been forgiven and living in peace with others (Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14). In fact, it was those verses about living in peace that kept me motivated to keep trying. But nothing seemed to improve the relationship.

As I prayed and read Scripture, this truth about biblical forgiveness came clear to  me:

Biblical forgiveness is often a process and takes time.

As I wrote yesterday, forgiveness is a rarely a “one and done” thing. Often, we have to forgive day after day, time after time.  In contemplating what the process looks like, I realized another thing about forgiveness and how to put it into practice:

Forgiveness is taking a step TOWARD someone when everything in you really just wants to step AWAY.

Forgiveness is taking a step toward someone when you want to take a step away. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t even have to be a big step … maybe it’s a quick text with a Bible verse or even just a smile. But over time, those steps add up.  And I think this is a very real application of what Jesus said,

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22

Jesus is telling Peter —and us —to keep forgiving, keep taking that step toward restoration, even when it’s hard, even when it doesn’t seem to matter, even when we don’t want to do it any more.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22  Jesus is telling Peter —and us —to keep forgiving, keep taking that step toward restoration, even when it's hard, even when it doesn't seem to matter, even when we don't want to do it any more.

Forgiveness is hard … but it is the key to our own relationship with God.  This morning I was reading The Power of Persistence by Michael Catt.  Let me close this post and our discussion about forgiveness with a few quotes from this book that both challenged and inspired me.

The word “forgive” here [Mark 11:25-26]  is present tense in the original language. It means to be always forgiving. It’s a lifestyle, not just something you do at youth camp or some annual event. It means to remit and send away that which could get in our hearts and pull us down. (p. 140)

Our vertical relationship with God is damaged if our horizontal relationships with others are not where they should be. (p. 142)

Anything that builds a wall between you and someone else is in essence building a wall between you and God. (p. 144)

Forgiving others is a HUGE deal for us spiritually and we need to be obedient to His call on us to walk in forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard but it is the key to our own relationship with God. #StandOut Click To Tweet

xo,

Teri Lynne

What small step toward someone is God asking you to take?

Recommended Resource**  — The Power of Persistence: Breakthroughs in Your Prayer Life by Michael Catt

** this is an affiliate link and I may receive a small commission if you purchase through it

3 Replies to “What Does Forgiveness Look Like?”

  1. YES YES YES. Today’s blog post is about one of the most painful times in my life. Tomorrow’s blog post in my friendship series is about forgiving when someone doesn’t ask…and that it *is* possible to repair a broken friendship. Good stuff….you and I are very much in the same place with this.

    1. I have loved your series, Pattie. I’ve been catching up on the weekends and it is so good. Can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post!!

      1. Thank you! That means a lot.

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