Chapter Four, Part Three
How to Receive Forgiveness from Others
The Art of Forgiveness
Luke 23:34 NKJV
Matthew 5:44 NKJV
Matthew 27:50 NKJV
Colossians 3:12-17 NKJV
I Peter 3:9 NKJV
Galatians 5:16 NKJV
It doesn’t seem to make sense that we need to have a discussion about how to receive forgiveness from others, but there are nuances that make it necessary.
For example, when we are deeply hurt by another person, we would find it difficult to forgive them and receive their forgiveness.
We ARE human.
Our pain is real and God knows how deeply we are hurting. God does not take that lightly.
Furthermore, God hurts WITH us. God does not abandon us in our pain. The problem is that when we hurt badly, often we can ONLY feel our pain so it may feel like God is not with us. Rest assured that even though you cannot see or feel God, He is WITH you.
It’s not easy to believe God is closer than we think. That’s where faith comes in. You CAN ask God to give you the faith to believe He is there.
While you may not feel God or see where He is at work, you will believe God is with you in your dark hours.
Years ago I read several books about the dark night of the soul by St. John of the Cross. He wrote about it in the 1500’s. Other more recent notable books about the dark night of the soul were written by Thomas Moore and Gerald G. May.
The dark night of the soul is real and during those dark hours, God IS with us, but most of the time God is silent. Our faith from God gets us through it.
So it is when we receive forgiveness from others.
When we seek to receive forgiveness for something someone did to us, we need to take responsibility and forgive them for what they did (remember it’s not a feeling, it’s a choice).
As far as asking that they be forgiven and receiving their forgiveness, we need to turn to God.
When Jesus was on the cross He said in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Notice God the Father was involved in the forgiving, even from God the Son. Even though Jesus could forgive as God, He called on His Father. That could have been so others would know to forgive even when what is happening is unbelievably difficult. In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
On the cross as Jesus was being crucified and was in agony, He wasn’t thinking only of Himself.
Jesus was giving us the ultimate example of forgiveness on the cross. Jesus was surrendering what they were doing to Him. It didn’t change their guilt; it put the matter into God’s hands.
Jesus was receiving what God had for Him. He forgave those who were and would harm Him. He surrendered His Spirit in Matthew 27:50 when He said, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”
The cross was the ultimate example of His love.
It’s been my experience that children can be better at giving and receiving love and forgiveness after they’ve been hurt.
Adults can be less apt to move forward and surrender after they’ve hurt someone or they have been hurt. In many ways adults make it more complicated. Adults also do not always turn to a mediator who will help us work through what happened.
The bottom line is that moving forward with giving and receiving forgiveness is complex.
That’s why the Apostles wrote letters to the new Christians pointing them to look to Jesus and to love one another. They understood that this new life in Jesus would change how they looked at everything, including giving and receiving forgiveness.
In Colossians 3:1-2, Paul wrote, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Look to Jesus.
Peter wrote in I Peter 3:8-9 “all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
And Paul wrote to the church in Galatia in Galatians 5:16, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Today when we struggle to give and receive forgiveness and to surrender the situation to God, look to Jesus, love, and walk in the Spirit. God WILL make it possible!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Surrender
Give it to God and receive forgiveness.
In God, Deb