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. - Matthew 6:14-15
The choice to forgive does not need to involve telling the other person - I think sometimes we can use our forgiveness as a passive aggressive weapon. That's not forgiveness. Forgiveness is more about the state of your heart than it is about the other person.
However, what is important is that we seek reconciliation whenever possible. We are all children of God, and He doesn't want to see His children fighting or in conflict anymore than we do as parents.
Think about your troubled relationship with others - who are you in conflict with? Those relationships need to be set right so much as it’s in our power. Some of them can be set right simply by starting the process of forgiveness in our hearts and letting the offense roll off our backs. So many of the offenses we feel are insignificant enough to fall into this category - we just need to let it go. If we can’t let it go, then our next step is to pray about letting it go. Sometimes our pride is so strong that it holds on to an offense so much longer than we can, so we need to ask God to help us release our selfish grasp on that hurt. Our emotions have such a tendency to make a bigger deal out of simple offenses that we struggle to see the offense in it’s true light. But God can reveal it to us if we humble our hearts and roll it off to Him. Let it go. If you can’t let it go, pray about it and let it go.
If we are offended or hurt by another person's sin in such a way that we can't let it roll off, if the hurt is bigger than something we should just let go or pray away, then we are instructed to bring it to them. It’s important to note that we are
not to bring it to other people - we are to bring the offense directly to the person who offended us. If we bring it to other people, we are the ones in need of forgiveness.
Many of us get hung up on this directive because we fear the response, or because we sin in our response. Sometimes, when we bring it to the person, they don't see their sin. That can hurt even more - and I think that's where many of us falter. We get angry or hurt that they don't see their offense as we see it, or they rise up to defend their sin.
It is that this point we need to allow the Holy Spirit to step in and take over. Once we bring the offense to the other person, we need to let it go - regardless of their response. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person, forgiveness is about our own heart. We are to quietly and humbly begin the process of forgiveness.
It’s also important to note that using the words "I forgive you" at this point will often only add fuel to the fire of conflict because it can perceived as passive aggressive. And we are the peacemakers. Turning to God in these moments, asking Him to shine through your response will bring glory to Him.
Let Him do the work in the other person's heart in the timing that He chooses to do it, and let the work in your heart continue by surrendering your right to hold on to the offense.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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