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Finding Forgiveness

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Experiencing Forgiveness

Are you struggling with forgiveness? Is there someone you’re having a hard time forgiving? Or maybe it’s difficult for you to understand how God could forgive you. If you struggle with giving or accepting forgiveness, pray for a softened heart and a greater understanding of God's love for you. Sometimes we need to ask Him to forgive our own unforgiveness before we can forgive. 

Just Between Us Magazine has compiled a number of articles on forgiveness from those who, like you, have faced similar struggles. We pray they offer the wisdom and encouragement you seek.

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Why We Forgive

God forgives us out of His infinite grace (Rom. 3:23-24). We don’t deserve it, but He loves us extravagantly (Ps. 103:10-12, Eph. 1:7-8). And He wants us to show that same extravagant love toward others. Even those who have wronged us. Even though they don’t deserve it (Luke 6:27-37).

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Perhaps it would help if we first look at what forgiveness isn’t:

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1. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s an act of the will, a choice. God chose to forgive us, even before we repented (Rom. 5:8, 2 Thess. 2:13).

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2.  Forgiveness isn’t always a single event. Sometimes it’s a process. When Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother or sister 77 times (a metaphorical number that also represents perfection in Hebrew), that could mean forgiving them for multiple sins or for the same sin — for instance, if we find ourselves “taking back” our forgiveness or discover hidden wounds that haven’t been dealt with yet (Matt. 18:21-22).

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3.  Forgiveness, in the human sense, doesn’t mean forgetting; only God can do that (Heb. 10:17). However, that doesn’t mean we can bring up the offense over and over again. When we forgive, we choose to give up our right to get even or to use the offense as a weapon against the person who wronged us. Love (and forgiveness) doesn’t keep a record of wrongs (I Cor. 13:5).

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4.  Forgiveness is not a guarantee of reconciliation. While forgiveness can be unilateral, reconciliation can only happen when both parties agree. Reconciliation may not be possible for many reasons. If the offense was serious and ongoing, and the offender hasn’t repented, reconciliation would be unwise, even dangerous. Or perhaps the other person doesn’t recognize the hurt they caused, or they are unwilling to reconcile.

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Now let’s look at why we should we forgive:

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1.  Because God forgives us (Eph. 4:32). Our forgiveness should be an outpouring of gratitude for the mercy God has shown us. When we forgive someone, we gain a greater understanding of God’s love.

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2.  Because God commands us to (Col. 3:13). It is an act of obedience.

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3.  Because it brings healing. I have heard it said that not forgiving someone is like eating poison and expecting the other person to suffer. It doesn’t work that way. Unforgiveness will cause more damage to you than to the other person (Heb. 12:14-15). Unforgiveness has also been compared to a chain that binds us to the person who wronged us. Only by forgiving them can we be free from those bonds.

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If you struggle with giving or accepting forgiveness, pray for a softened heart and a greater understanding of God's love for you. Sometimes we need to ask Him to forgive our own unforgiveness before we can forgive. 

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