Forgiveness is defined as “the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.” Christians and non-Christians alike understand that the process of forgiveness implies the work of two people to reconcile a relationship. It should not come as a surprise that God created us and desired a relationship with us, but as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, conflict in relationship began and the process of forgiveness began. Forgiveness is not always a solo act like a knockout blow in a fight and forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting the offense (not in a “hold it over their head” type of forget, but a “not put them in that situation” type of way of forgetting). However, using these four “P” principles below will hopefully help you when the time to forgive or receive forgiveness from someone.
Persevering in Forgiveness
Peter begins by asking Jesus a question about forgiveness, but in his question, Peter engages his part of the forgiveness process. Forgiving someone for their offense can be hard, but swallowing your pride and asking forgiveness is hard too. Whichever side you may find yourself on, know that in the process of forgiveness you are choosing to voluntarily suffer. You are either humbling yourself to a vulnerable place to ask for forgiveness or you are being vulnerable to accept someone’s failure. In both instances, you are choosing to suffer, but this suffering is glorifying to God and a light to the world around you.
Pursuit of Forgiveness
In Matthew 18:21 Peter acknowledges he needs to pursue forgiving someone and in Matthew 5:24, Jesus commands us to pursue those who we have wronged. Prioritizing your forgiveness of others and urgently pursuing those we have grieved. In both situations, we need fulfill our responsibility to pursue the other person to rectify the situation.
Prayer in Forgiveness
In Psalms 25:1-10, David prays to God. Prayer plays a vital role in the process of forgiveness. If you are anything like me, you probably need the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) to ask for forgiveness. But what if you are the one who has been wronged? I can assure you it is a lot harder to stay mad or bitter towards someone if you are actively praying for that person. This is not a “tattle tale prayer,” but a spirit-filled prayer over that person. Pray like David did, exalting God, asking for clarity of God’s plan, and asking forgiveness of your sins and shortcomings.
Point of View in Forgiveness
As Christians, our view of forgiveness should even more so, be rooted in God and humility to be a reflection of our God. We, as humans, introduced sin and conflict into the perfect world that God created. Did God forsake Adam and Eve? No! He pursued them and called out to them in the garden while they were naked, ashamed, and afraid. Were there consequences? Yes, but he restored their relationship. Our human mind cannot comprehend the perfect nature of God as we have been tainted with sin. Just think about the sins you have committed today. Now multiply that by the 7.9 billion image bearers of God, that He created on Earth. God is oppressed by His own creation each second, yet we learn in the Bible of his forgiveness and faithfulness. So much so, Jesus was sent to die on a cross to atone for the sins of God’s own creation. Yet He still pursues us offenders today and forgives faithfully. We need to take the time to stop and reflect on how God has forgiven us. Tim Keller says, “Forgiveness is granted (often a good while) before it is felt — not felt before it is granted…If you wait to feel it before you grant it, you’ll never grant it; you’ll be in an anger prison.”