"Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins."---Matthew 6:14-15(NCV)
It always fascinates me that people will feel like they are in a safe spiritual place by not forgiving someone when the Word *clearly states* that in order to be forgiven, one must forgive. That biblical reality should be enough reason for *all of us* to forgive others. NO. MATTER. WHAT. Because personally, I don't know one person who doesn't need forgiveness and will probably do something today that will require asking for it (I John 9:1-10). Do you?
That's why I wanted to share an article I read this morning entitled "The 10 Things That Show You Have Really Forgiven Someone". It definitely provides some soul food for thought to really sit and think about; to ponder (Proverbs 4:26). After all, the power trip that comes with choosing not to forgive someone does not even compare to the spiritual jeopardy that you place yourself in by making that kind of *prideful* (Proverbs 18:21) decision.
It really is so true that when we can find our way to forgiving someone, I mean really forgiving them, we are enlarging our future and opening ourselves to all the good things that are there waiting for us. It is so important to not allow any negativity to linger in your mind, and sometimes that can be hard -especially if you don’t realize it’s there because you think you have forgiven someone.
So, what I started doing was testing if I had really forgiven people who had done something I thought was wrong. Here’s a little checklist to go through and test if you truly have forgiven someone. In terms of forgiveness, the questions go from easy to hardest.
If you can honestly answer “yes” to each one, then most likely you have forgiven them. If not, no worries, it just means there is a little more “forgiveness” work to be done. Let’s just say, for certain people, it took me awhile and some more work to really be able to answer “yes” to all 10 questions. The key is to not pretend like the ankle weight and residual anger aren’t there. Read This and This and really start working today to completely forgive them. The time has come to get rid of all those ankle weights – Join me?
The Forgiveness Checklist
Stage 1: The Easier Questions
1. If you saw them stranded on the side of the road, would you stop and help them?
2. Are you more interested in prioritizing your peace of mind than you are in staying mad at them?
3. Can you think about them and whatever happened without getting upset at all?
Stage 2: The More Challenging Questions
4. Can you go a month or more without thinking about what happened?
5. Are there good things about them that you can see?
6. Can you see a valuable lesson the experience taught you?
Stage 3: The Even More Challenging Questions
7. Do you genuinely want them to be happy in the future?
8. Do you want them to be successful?
9. Can you complete this sentence with a positive statement? “If that hadn’t happened then ________”.
10. Do you believe that there was a reason for whatever happened and in one way or another you will benefit in some way from the experience?
Real forgiveness is when you can answer “Yes” to all 10 questions.
This brings me to an article written for children about forgiveness entitled "The List: 7 Signs That You Haven’t Forgiven". It's actually got some "ouch" moments in it:
Sometimes, even when we know we should forgive people, it’s hard. Here are some signs that you may have more work to do.
1. Anger. Still feel furious when you think about what happened? That often means you haven’t really forgiven yet.
2. Complaining. Do you find yourself talking a lot about how unfair what happened was? You might not have fully forgiven.
3. Reminders. Do you keep reminding the person who wronged you about it? Sounds like it still bothers you. Try talking it over with God and the other person, too.
4. Seeking revenge. Do you find yourself thinking up ways to get back at the other person? If so, you definitely haven’t reached forgiveness.
5. Finding it hard to pray. Praying for the person who hurt you can help you let go of feeling bad and start truly forgiving.
6. Sadness. If you still feel sad, hurt, or unhappy about what happened, you may not be done forgiving. Ask for God’s help and talk things over with a trusted adult.
7. Broken relationship. If you avoid a person who was important to you in the past, you may need to pray for God’s guidance in healing the relationship.
I don't think there's one week that goes by that I don't quote the detriment that comes with breaking your vows (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) and that is a big part of the reason why the lead quote is so powerful to me. Forgiveness is not a feeling. Indeed it is a promise. And if you vow it, you need to honor it.
Just something to think about and pray over. I know I will.