GRACE rocks our world when we finally realise that what God has extended to us we cannot extend to another person quite so easily. Grace is costly. If it’s cheap it’s not grace. Grace suggests that we can and will forgive again and again.
Grace is ongoing forgiveness notwithstanding the fault of transgression against us.
These are ten ways to ensure forgiveness sticks:
1. Understand that forgiveness will be a daily challenge to be overcome for some time yet — maybe months or even years. I’m sure this is why Jesus said “Not seven times, but seventy-seven/seventy times seven times.” Forgiveness will need to become a habit if it’s to become an outcome we reach.
2. Do it. Yes, just do it. Go and engage with the person you’ve forgiven. Don’t tell them they’re forgiven unless that would help them. Simply engage with them as normally as you can.
3. Don’t avoid them. Avoidance speaks of the power of fear and bitterness to control us. We can’t continue to forgive people we’re avoiding.
4. Do focus on what you have as opposed to what you don’t have. Gratefulness and contentment are weapons of virtue against bitterness and resentment.
5. Don’t overanalyse situations that make for resentment. Exercise self-restraint over thinking, and feelings can be controlled and will not be exacerbated.
6. Learn about how to expand life rather than allow it to contract. When life contracts we focus on one or two issues to the exclusion of all others. Learning to habitually expand our lives is continually perspectivising it — adding pleasant parts of our past and hopeful parts of our future to the present moment.
7. Read the Bible, and especially areas that deal with forgiveness, patience, grace, anger, and what God has done in Christ.
8. Visualise times and situations where you will have the poise and strength to interact with those who’ve hurt you. Visualise feeling not only in control, but gracious, content with what you have, and able to love them as God does.
9. Research the area of forgiveness and grace and make a collection of quotes and writings with which to reflect over. Make it a daily practice to research and read.
10. Pray. Just simply pray. Seek God for the love needed to forgive — a love that transcends our selfish flesh.
Forgiveness is the freedom we each deserve when we allow others to be pardoned and be free.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.