The Practice of Forgiveness Part 3

Part 3 of 5. We are going to explore a spiritual formation practice through my blog. The first week, I explored basic information about the topic of forgiveness. This past week, we actually began the spiritual practices. Each week now we will explore these themes more deeply not as a formula but as a means of grace.

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to quiet our hearts and minds and bring to mind one individual or group of people who has offended or hurt you.

God’s Spirit may bring to mind people from your childhood, people who are no longer alive, or people or groups you dislike because of their looks, their habits, their beliefs, or their lifestyles. 

Silence 

If no person or group came to mind, try again tomorrow. Sometimes it takes more than one time of quiet prayer for the Holy Spirit to unearth the people you need to forgive.

If a person or group did come to mind, let’s do the steps together now.

Step 1:  Determine in your heart that you want to fully forgive this person or group.

Silence

Step 2:  Ask God to help you release your feelings of bitterness, resentment, or hatred. 

  • God wants me to forgive, not only for the sake of the relationship, but for my own personal well-being. 
  • I can call on God to help me rid myself of the negative feelings that come with unforgiveness, so that I have room in my heart for positive feelings.
  • In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15), the father is a metaphor for God, but he is also a picture of human forgiveness.  Although his son has offended him deeply, the father forgives him and welcomes him with love and joy (not with bitterness, resentment, or hatred). 
  • The wholeheartedness of forgiveness benefits me!  Every unforgiving piece of my heart that is given to bitterness, resentment, or hatred is a piece that cannot experience love, peace, and joy. So, forgiveness is not merely a duty to be carried out because God commanded it—it is an emancipation of my heart and a pathway to receive love and joy. 
  • Catherine Marshall wrote that God “cannot give the gift [of love] so long as bitterness and resentment have slammed shut the door of the heart, and unforgiveness stands sentinel at the door.” 
  • Only to the degree that we forgive can we feel the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Now that you’ve determined in your heart that you want to fully forgive this person or group, do Step 2—ask God to help you release your feelings of bitterness, resentment, or hatred.

 

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