The Power to Forgive

Day 4 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

The Power to Forgive

Forgiveness is a decision. You don’t need to have any warm, fuzzy feelings before you forgive. The power is available as soon as you choose. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, we were given the power to forgive even the worst offenses. You have the power right now because the Spirit of God lives in you. (Romans 8:11) You don’t have to wait for a certain amount of time to pass. You just decide: I’m going to forgive.

So let me offer some practical steps to help you through this decision.

Forgiveness starts by admitting, “I was hurt.”

That’s hard to admit, especially if you see yourself as a strong person. Admitting we got hurt makes us feel vulnerable. But once you get up the courage to admit you were hurt, you’ve cracked open the door to be able to forgive.

The next step is to admit how you were hurt. You have to actually name the hurt and shame. I was betrayed. I was lied to. I was abandoned. I was rejected. You need to say it out loud to yourself. If you want, you can use the following as an example of what to say:

Name of person betrayed my trust and used it to take advantage of me. He hurt me.

Name of person lied to me and then told lies about me. She hurt me.

Name of person betrayed my family’s trust. He hurt my family.

Name of person abandoned me. The person who should have protected me left me alone.

This is an intense process, so I don’t recommend doing it alone. Ask a pastor or professional counselor who understands forgiveness to walk through it with you. When I had to walk through forgiving a pastor who hurt me, a counselor helped me walk through it.

Admitting hurt involves grieving. We have to recognize what we lost. We have to express our sadness over the loss, which can be painful, which is why many people decide they don’t want to take this step. But trust me, the cost of holding onto the hurt is far worse than the temporary pain of confessing and grieving it.

After I expressed how that pastor hurt me and what I lost, my counselor told me to repeat the ways that that pastor had hurt me, but she had me add one final statement at the end: “But I choose to forgive him for hurting me.”

It was awkward to say it all out loud again. But the relief I felt was amazing. It was like I regained a sense of hope and perspective. I wasn’t a victim. I was choosing to forgive someone who had hurt me. It was my choice. More importantly, I was embracing God’s grace to forgive and that released peace in my life.

And then there’s one final step: You have to remind yourself of your decision. Remind yourself when you wake up. Remind yourself when you think about what the person did. Remind yourself before you go to bed. You’ll know you’ve truly forgiven when you look back at the hurt and feel no anger—only peace.

One of the quickest ways to decide what action you need to take to walk out your decision to forgive is to ask yourself: How would I respond to that person if I truly had forgiven them and let it go?

Then go do that. And don't be surprised if you find a sense of peace overwhelming you as you walk in the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness always leads to inner peace. A deep peace that goes beyond understanding.