Forgiving others is an important part of having good relationships. Mark 12:30-31 says, “you must love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important. Love your neighbor, as you love yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Love others in balance with the way that you love yourself.
Some people are out of balance by loving others and not themselves. Some people are out of balance by loving themselves and not loving others enough. I’m sure you know a few people like that. So let’s think about this for a minute: Jesus says to keep our love balanced.
How do you forgive others? If our peace with others is out of balance, we can’t fix it from a distance. We have to own it. And it takes courage to forgive others. For me to forgive someone, I have to acknowledge or hold close the hurt and the anger that I’ve felt from them.
The hurt is about injustice- how much I have grieved. The anger or sometimes even hate is about the injustice. Let’s think about this for a minute. The Bible says that hating someone is loving them less than God asked me to love them. So when Jesus says you must hate your mother or your father, your brother, your sister, yes, even your own life, what does He mean? Jesus says that we must love ourselves and others less than we love God.
When we love others less than what God has asked us to (less than we love ourselves) we have to forgive. One way to do this is to write down in a journal (just between you and God) all the ways this person has hurt you and all the ways that you’re angry with them. Most people default either towards feeling more hurt (the grieving) which is more vulnerable, or the angry feeling which feels more powerful.
When I am angry, it gives me an illusion of control. Now it’s true that real anger is a reaction to a perceived injustice but think about being angry like eating manna. It’s fine and it can actually feed you the day that you eat it, but if you keep it overnight, it gets worms. That’s what God says about holding on to anger- be angry, and yet do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down in your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity. That word for opportunity is topos– it means a place. We give the enemy a place in our souls when we don’t forgive someone.
So how do we forgive? We’ve written out the hurts and the anger. We’ve owned the wrong against us and pulled it close. Here’s a prayer I suggest: First, Lord, show me everything I’ve not released and totally forgiven this person for. Secondly, Lord, I forgive this person (be specific with every wrong). Third, Lord, I bless this person.
One of the most important verses for forgiveness is Matthew 5:44. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” Blessing the person is the best step after forgiveness.