Don’t let anyone tell you being a Christian is easy, or a crutch.
When you come to Christ, you come with all of yourself, surrendering everything to Jesus. And that’s not easy, because “I want what I want.” But in the surrender, you lay down your “wants.”
And one of those wants is the ability to be judge and to hold onto anger when we’ve been wronged. “I deserve to be angry! I will not forgive! They don’t deserve to be forgiven!”
As someone who has wronged others and has been wronged in deeply painful ways, I offer you 5 ways to forgive when it feels unfair. These helped me, perhaps they’ll help you, too.
1. Trust God with the Person and the Situation
Say to God, “Lord, I feel like this situation is so unfair and I feel so wronged and I don’t know what to do with it, but I trust that you do know what to do with it. You know me, you know them, and you see all the things I don’t. Plus, I know you love me and have my back (as well as their’s), so here you go God, it’s all yours.” In other words, trust God with the person and the situation.
2. Nobody Gets a Free Pass at the Pain of Life
Would you agree that life is hard? It is, and the fact is, nobody gets a free pass to skip the battle, not even the person who wronged you. When I remember that truth, that everyone is facing a hard battle, I can have compassion for the person who wronged me. Also? Think about all the times I have wronged someone. Yeah, that helps me to be more compassionate as well.
3. Do I Need to Be Forgiven?
Is there something I have done that I should ask forgiveness for with the person who wronged me? Ask it. And ask without the expectation that you will be asked for forgiveness in return. Free and clear, ask genuinely; ask God to show you where you may have gone wrong or offended.
4. Choose to Be a Person of the Light
The enemy wants nothing more than to keep you in the dark – seething, feeling vengeful, getting worked up, having a major lack of peace – he wants you far away from forgiveness, because forgiveness shines blindingly, beautifully bright.
5. Release the person to God.
When you forgive someone, you are not forgiving the sin they committed against you, you are forgiving the person who sinned against you. This is an important distinction. The sin does not get forgiveness. The sin is wrong, and you are right to hate it. In fact, to hate evil is to fear God. So when you forgive, you are not saying you’re okay with evil or sin, and in fact, you can hate the offense or evil that was brought to you.
What you cannot do is hate the person. What you must do is forgive them.
If you’ve had evil committed against you, not hating them and even forgiving feels impossible. But remember, you are not excusing the sin or saying it’s okay. You hate it. You are choosing to forgive the person. And when you do, you will be free, free to deal with the effects of the sin and free to live your life without the rage and bitterness you carry. You are releasing that person to God. You will hold them and their sin no longer. They are not your responsibility and they will no longer steal your joy.
You will be free.
Because you have chosen to obey Jesus and trust Him when He tells you to forgive. Let Him handle the rest; let Him handle the person and their offense.
You go free.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that…” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes
Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Gentle but jolting — it’s easy to forget that we follow a Savior who gave up all his “rights” and submitted to an unjust death on a cross.
Praying right now for those who have more forgiving to do than they think they can manage on their own, and trusting that your words will be the beginning of a beautiful flood of restoration.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Excellent points here!! I really appreciate the one in which you say you can hate the sin, but not the sinner. It is the person we are forgiving, but not the sin. Once again, I see God giving us commands not for commands sake, but for our own good. Like you illustrated, God tells us to forgive, not to let the other guy off the hook, but for OUR own good. He knows that unforgiveness, bitterness, and rage will eat us up from the inside out. He wants us to live in freedom and abundantly and one of the ways we can do that is to forgive. We aren’t condoning what was done by letting it go, but we are commending the one who wronged us into the hands of a Higher Judge… One who ultimately exacts justice. Great post!
Sarah May, It is apparent God spoke to you for me. I am having a very difficult time because my husband of 53 years chose to join a false cult & leave our Baptist church.. Almost every day he yells much mental abuse at me because I refuse to “obey” him by accepting him & his church. It is very hard not to be constantly angry at him. I will try to forgive him instead of being so hurt. God bless!
So true and thanks for writing it down with these points. Forgiveness is hard, but with God´s help we can walk away knowing we did all we could with God´s help, and we do not know motives, and perspective of the other, but God does. We can have peace, leaving it with God.
We have forgiven a huge debt of several thousand dollars, but it is freeing to know God is with us, and knows the future. It is all His anyway.
Martha McNeal says
A powerful message for all to hear and apply to their own hearts. No one is above sin, but may we all be willing to forgive and trust God for the outcome, for He alone is the righteous judge. Let us not allow the sin of unforgiveness separate us from God’s best for us. Thak you for this
Summer Rae says
Miss Sarah Mae,
I am continuously blown away by the timing of these posts… your words have brought me peace and encouragement. I am grateful for the wisdom you have imparted and the distinction between hating the sin but still loving the person. Thank you. I pray you and your familyhave a blessed day.
This side of Heaven,
Karen warren says
I know we are to forgive but what do we do when it’s family members who keep on causing damage
Karen, We are not to stay in a situation of abuse. If that is the case, then leave that situation and separate yourself from those attacks. If you need help, then by all means, seek it. There are people and organizations who will provide shelter and counseling. If it is a situation where the “damage” occurs at family gatherings, then avoid those gatherings. You are answering to God first, not humans. Ask Him to guide you in His Love.
Sarah Mae says
There is so much to say here, and in fact I’m working on an entire chapter on this very question in my new book.
Here are some questions for you:
Are you safe?
Can you walk away or are you in the same household?
Let’s start there.
Love to you.
Audrey M. says
Thank you! Your questions are too often overlooked/not addressed or included when “preached, admonished, written, or discussed”–especially by Christian leaders! Blessings!
Beth Williams says
Praying for you sweet sister! You should pray about your situation & seek wise counsel. If need be leave the situation. You must look out for yourself first. Praying for a discerning heart to give you God’s wisdom!
Thank you so much! I so needed to read this!
I needed to read this post having battled within how to move on from a deep wound.
I am struggling from the rawness of the situation, while having to decide how I
continue in the relationship. I have decided it best to separate myself with only
necessary contact. I believe you poison yourself when you choose to let bitterness
and resentment build up within. So I pray to my Lord to give me strength and the
wisdom to handle the delicate emotions I’m feeling. I am absolutely powerless on
my own, but Holy Spirit will give us just what we need to overcome when we surrender
our fleshly thoughts and control. He that is within me is Greater!
Jeanne Takenaka says
This is a beautiful post, Sarah Mae. I never thought I was a grudge-holder, until someone attacked my character. I found it so difficult to forgive that person. It took time. I also discovered that God had to help me work through in layers. I would forgive, real and true. But then, something would touch that wound, and I had to bring it to God, ask for His help to forgive again, and then walk in that choice. When I pray to see those who have hurt me through God’s eyes, and I pray this sincerely, God has a way of enabling me to look beyond my pain and softening my heart toward that person.
Sylvia Martinez says
Thank you for sharing this. I just posted it to my Facebook. I had to learn to send counselling when I was in my 30s and number 5 is the thing that really helped me the most to bust through my anger and unforgiveness. I feel like it changed my life. I think it’s awesome that you put this out there. Thank you.
Thank-you so much for sharing this most uplifting post, and pointing out the difference between forgiveness of the person, and the sin itself.
One of my favorites is, King James:
‘I say not unto thee, until seven times, but seventy times seven.’
Have a blessed day all,
Michelle D Howard says
Thank you – the struggle is real and I need God to help me through it!
Rebecca L Jones says
Great post, excellent verses, let anger go.
Beth Williams says
Wise words. Ephesians 4:32 “Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted-forgiving each other, just as in Christ God has forgiven you. Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Forgiveness is a two way street. You must do your best to forgive someone & not wallow in bitterness & hatred. The evil one would love nothing better than to see us all enraged and made at each other. God wants us to live in love.
Audrey M. says
THIS is the VERY topic our pastor preached yesterday (Oct 22, 2017)!
“An Expectation to Forgive”
1. Remember: the hurt, the offense, the injury.
2. Relinquish: Let go of the debt owed, cancel the obligation.
3. Restore: the relationship (often in the context of families)–even if it is a hand-written note. I CANNOT let THEIR RESPONSE to affect my attitude & my action-simply do what is RIGHT! Choose to FORGIVE – REGARDLESS!