Spiritual Disciplines – Forgiving
Practicing the Spiritual Discipline of Forgiving Others
by Pastor Jim Renke
“Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” – The Lord’s Prayer
Our hope is, just as we have fasted, prayed, and given, this Friday we will take an opportunity to practice forgiveness. This is a spiritual discipline that frees us to experience the riches of God’s grace of forgiveness for us. Here are some things to think about as we practice forgiveness.
If you haven’t watched the video, please do so HERE.
Forgiveness does not always end in reconciliation. Reconciliation sometimes is impossible. Because someone has passed, or other unsafe situations, steps toward reconciliation can’t take place. Forgiveness is one-sided. It’s a decision of our will to carry the weight of what others have done, out of love for God and others.
How can we learn to practice it?
1. Put a time for this process on your calendar. Understand that this may take more time than you have in one sitting. Realize this is difficult. It requires great humility and great trust in God’s goodness.
2. Practice confession of our own sin. (Read Matthew 18:21-35)
a. Confess to God. I find that journaling is the best way to do this. Writing helps me truly process what God may be wanting me to address.
b. Confess to others you may have wronged. This may require a conversation. If this isn’t something that can be done right away, begin to pray through how God wants you to do this.
Note: Confession keeps our need for forgiveness before us. Matthew 7:5 reminds us to take the plank out of our eye. This requires brutal honesty with God and others about our sin.
3. Thank God for his promise of forgiveness in Christ. (Read John 1:5-10)
4. In honesty and vulnerability, identify the one who has sinned against you.
a. Clarify the sinful action.
b. Clarify the cost of that action (the pain or difficulty it has caused for you).
c. Minimizing the pain often keeps it buried within. It remains like an infection, festering and undermining any attempt toward health.
5. Make the willful decision to let go of the rope (refer to the video here).
a. Pray for God’s healing in your life. The pain is real, but only God can heal.
b. Pray for the person. Often people act out of their own brokenness.
c. Fill your minds with reflections on the cross of Jesus. He prayed, ‘Father, forgive them.” The cross of self-denial is what he also called us to carry.
d. Keep working through this process, until you no longer focus on the pain but instead on the opportunity for peace and healing.
6. If it is possible, start to pray for God’s leading in the next steps toward reconciliation. Reconciliation is the ultimate work of the gospel. That’s God’s heart.