I come for a line of the easily offended and grudge holders. What a curse! Since learning about Christ’s love for me and His forgiveness it helps me be able to forgive others. I think before learning to forgive it helps if we simply learn not to be easily offended. So often there really was no reason to be offended, but it was simply what we perceived to be an offense. If we could just learn to get over ourselves and walk in love, perhaps our lives could make more of an impact for the Kingdom.
Forgiveness may be described as a decision to make four promises:
"I will not dwell on this incident."
"I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you."
"I will not talk to others about this incident."
"I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship."
By making and keeping these promises, you can tear down the walls that stand between you and your offender. You promise not to dwell on or brood over the problem or to punish by holding the person at a distance. You clear the way for your relationship to develop unhindered by memories of past wrongs. This is exactly what God does for us, and it is what he calls us to do for others.
Food for Thought
Do you sometimes find yourself breaking (or tempted to break) one or more of the Four Promises of Forgiveness sometime after you make them? That's a very normal experience--and, believe it or not, it's an invitation from God to draw closer to him. The key is remembering and applying Hebrews 9:22. That verse tells us that in the universe there is only one source of durable forgiveness: the Cross of Christ. "Without the shedding of blood," the verse says, "there is no forgiveness."
For a time, we may be able to forgive someone out of our own willpower or our human desire for reconciliation, but eventually even our best efforts will buckle (yes, even when they're buoyed up by the Four Promises). If we want our forgiveness of others to "stick", we ourselves need to "stick" continually--to the Cross. So when you sense a long-buried hatchet rising to the surface, don't dwell on those thoughts. Instead, dwell on Christ's forgiveness of your own sin. The more real that becomes for you, the less real temptations toward unforgiveness will be.