How do I heal and forgive completely without fear of being hurt again?
It is easy to talk forgiveness but very hard to give it, particularly when you are deeply hurting. I have learnt that even when we say we have forgiven our actions still betray us. Your ability to forgive is one of those things that measure your level of Christian maturity, or Christlikeness in character. Character transformation is the evidence of Christian growth. Christian growth is growth in grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favour. As you grow in grace you constantly realize how underserving you are. Grace empties you of self-righteousness and fear of being hurt again. For there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. 1John 4:18.
A pastor friend recently asked me why people cling so hard to legalism instead of appreciating the good news of the grace of God. I thought about the question and it dawned on me that legalism exalts self and makes it feel important. Legalism thrives on self-ability; what you can do by yourself or by the help of God. Ultimately in legalism or self-righteousness, you share the glory with God. God receives the glory, but you also receive the glory because you worked so hard to realize the purposes of God. Self will go to great lengths to receive just a little glory. How we love those who feed our ego!
Legalism is nothing but self-pride.
The danger of such legalistic (read self-centred) approach to Christian living is that it does not exalt Christ alone, but Christ and self. It makes you feel that you are deserving, and so people, and even God, owes you recognition, respect and happiness. Consequently, such a person does not know how to relate to those who do not seem to be succeeding in their walk with God. The result is that one becomes judgmental and hypocritical.
One of the areas of life where such hypocrisy manifests itself is in handling pain caused to you by others. You may seem to be understanding and loving while going through hurts of life, but eventually when your pretense is exhausted everything comes out in the open. Your attitude, speech, and actions will betray you big time. Suddenly you realize that you have been bottling up things on the inside, and keeping a record of wrongs, while behaving like you were a saint, forgiving and forgetting. Love, the basis of forgiveness, keeps no record of wrongs.
Pain and hurt tests your commitment.
Pain and hurt in a relationship are the litmus test of our commitment to God and to one another. Every relationship experiences pain and hurt from time to time, some more than others. But the solution is always in reexamining your standing in grace or in self-righteousness. The one who stands in grace is always overwhelmed by the love of God and His favour. How could God love me while I was yet ungodly, and a sinner? How could Jesus give me His life when I hated Him? How could He exalt me to reign with Him as king? Why? And the answer will always amaze me. God delights in mercy! He takes great pleasure in showing kindness to undeserving people. God is willing to suffer pain that I may experience pleasure and joy of forgiveness. By His stripes we were healed. Healing, my friend, is costly. His stripes. That is the price. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquity. He bore our pain and our sorrows. He shed blood. Forgiveness is costly. For without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. You who forgive are the one to shed blood, and experience the pain, not the other way round.
Forgiveness precedes repentance.
Too many people expect the offender to bleed volumes before receiving forgiveness. But, I hear you say, what about repentance? Well, what about it? Tell me. What comes first in your system? Forgiveness followed by repentance, or repentance followed by forgiveness? Do we change our mind and receive forgiveness, or, do we receive forgiveness and change our mind? It is the goodness of God expressed in His kindness at the cross that leads you and me to repentance. It is when we experience His love and forgiveness that we repent, change our minds about Him, and enter into a relationship with Him of love and obedience. The other way round is nothing but religion, not Christianity. So do not forgive because they asked for it, but do it even if they do not ask for it.
Forgiveness springs from love!
Forgiveness is a demonstration of genuine love. We love Him because He first loved us. We love Him by showing love to others whom we think do not deserve it. In the same way we forgive because He first forgave us, and cleansed us from all our sins. Forgiveness is opening yourself to God to be a channel through which His healing grace can flow and restore another who has fallen short of it. Forgiveness shows that you are looking up to God to supply your own healing from the pain suffered.
Forgiveness is a choice, just as love is a choice.
You do not love because you feel like it. I’m ashamed to hear how many Christians keep on saying that they do not feel any love for their spouses when tough times come. If your relationship is based on feelings of love you are an accident waiting to happen. Love is a choice you make, not a feeling you crave. So is forgiveness. It is a choice, not a feeling.
Unforgiveness is lack of appreciation of God’s grace.
When we reject the same people we claim to have forgiven we demonstrate our lack of appreciation of God’s grace, and expose our hidden self-righteous attitudes. Ultimately, lack of total forgiveness is rejection of our own salvation:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Forgiveness is an expression of goodness. If you are not good you cannot genuinely forgive. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Psalms 86:5
Forgiveness springs from a grateful heart!
We receive forgiveness and we give forgiveness. It was painful at the cross and it will be painful today because it involves death to self! “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” – Matthew 18:35
Genuine forgiveness leads to restoration, transformation, and reformation in the life of the forgiven. Christ’s forgiveness is the measure of our forgiveness. Nothing less.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, also Colossians 3:13-15. So if you want your hurt to heal, forgive and experience restoration in your relationship. Kingdom life thrives on love and forgiveness. Let God heal you and give Him opportunity to heal someone who has hurt you by extending genuine forgiveness.
Our Father forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Learn to forgive today. Send a text message of love and forgiveness. Or just dial the number and let grace flow in forgiveness from the bottom of your heart.