Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

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How can I forgive someone from the heart? Am I really supposed to forget?

How can I forgive someone from the heart? Am I really supposed to forget?

Jesus certainly taught his followers to forgive.

When they asked him to teach them to pray, his model prayer included this request.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This was the only part of the prayer he explained, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15)

He repeated the necessity of forgiving others when he told Peter to forgive his brother 490 times. (Matthew 18:21-22) He followed that statement with the parable of the unforgiving servant. That servant lost his master’s forgiveness because he would not forgive another. Jesus concluded this teaching with this warning.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

The apostle Paul also taught that Christians should forgive.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Forgiveness is not…

  1. Forgiveness is not saying what happened to you was a little thing. We are patient and “bear with each other” for the little irritations and idiosyncrasies we all have. Forgiveness is reserved for “grievances” or offenses. If someone has hurt you deeply by word or deed, then he or she needs your forgiveness.
  2. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened to you. If you can truly forget what happen, then it must not be very painful. The best you can hope to do is to come to the place where you can say, “I distinctly remember forgiving him for that.”
  3. Forgiveness is not a matter of suppressing your hurt feelings. Many people avoid negative feelings as often as possible. They bury their pain, grief, anger and desire for revenge. However, those corrosive emotions eat away at their physical, emotional and spiritual health. Sooner or later, those emotions will erupt like a volcano.
  4. Forgiveness is not declaring that the one who hurt you was right in what he or she did. This is a common misconception about forgiving others. The fact that you need to forgive a person for hurting you indicates they were wrong. Forgiveness does not gloss over the evil of the offense.

Forgiveness is …

  1. Forgiveness is recognizing the evil of what happened to you. Sin is sin. Evil is evil. Hurtful words and actions damage and destroy. If you are forgiving someone, you are following God’s example and calling evil deeds what they are. What happened was wrong and should never have happened, but it did.
  2. Forgiveness is acknowledging your desire to get even. Your deep seated sense of justice declares the offender must pay for your pain. Every human being feels that way. Forgiveness calls us to be honest about it.
  3. Forgiveness is turning the person who hurt you over to God, allowing the Lord to deal with him or her. The apostle Paul put it this way. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) This takes prayer – deliberate, concentrated prayer. True forgiveness takes time. It is very hard to let go of our desire to repay those who hurt us. It may take a lifetime to accomplish but it’s worth the effort.
  4. Forgiveness sets us free from our pasts. It releases all the negative, corrosive emotions and allows healing to begin. You will be the one to benefit most when you forgive those who hurt you.




How are you doing in following this command from Jesus?


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8 responses to “How can I forgive someone from the heart? Am I really supposed to forget?

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  4. debbie November 14, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    I have been hurt by my daughter several times, came to the point couldn’t allow her to keep doing it. Gave to God, when I’m having a hard time I let God know and ask he help me control the feeling of missing her and her family. I know God can play this out the way it’s meant to be.

  5. Julie November 16, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    In 1997 my boyfriend at the time attacked me with a very large knife causing several severe injuries, I lost 3 pints of blood, died 3 times on the way to the hospital. God was with me that night of that I have no doubt
    My problem is forgiveness, he is serving a life sentence, 25 years. I have no love, no hatred no feelings. I don’t know if I have forgiven him. How do I know?

    • pastormarkhaines November 16, 2011 at 10:23 PM

      Julie, you’ve been hurt very badly — to put it mildly. Have you spoken with a counselor since the attack? You have a great deal to process. If you haven’t talked it through with a trained counselor, your lack of feelings may stem from trying to bury the pain. Someone in your situation will need help to work through the feelings of betrayal, grief, violation and anger. Until you work through all these emotions, you will not know if you’ve forgiven your attacker. I urge you to find a counselor who is trained to help crime victims. Perhaps your local police or prosecutor’s office can assist you in finding one.

  6. Rose May 14, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    The information I found in your blog is really
    Going to help me forgive my significant other
    for all of the cheating and all the trips he has
    taken without me. My heart and soul is full of
    rage account of his actions and I contemplated cheating as a way of revenge. However upon some meditation and some
    self observation I have come to the conclusion that at the end of the day he got away with mistreating this way because I allowed him to treat me this way. I was not in
    love with myself enough to have put an end
    to the emotional abuse. And I’m still hanging
    In there with him trying to forgive him so we
    can re-establish our relationship as if from
    day one. Moral of the story is you can forgive
    others for there shortcomings. However you
    must love yourself first and foremost because
    otherwise you will always be stepped on like
    people sometimes tend to do sometimes.

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