The Forgiveness Formula – Part 1

I have been reading Charles Stanley’s book, Landmines in the Path of the Believer during my quiet time with God.  The current chapter is on unforgiveness.  A few people I know have expressed to me that they are having trouble with this concept.  It’s hard to forgive someone that has hurt you.  It’s hard to let the anger go.  It’s hard to move on.  But we must.  We must move past the anger, past the hurt.  The Bible actually commands us to forgive.  It tells us that we must.  Why?  Why are we commanded to forgive?  Why is it wrong to hold on to those feelings?  Maybe you are like me and think, if I forgive the person that hurt me I will be letting them off the hook.  Or maybe you feel if I forgive that jerk for what he/she did I will even be encouraging them to do it again.  Maybe my forgiveness will be a silent declaration that what they did was ok, or even that I agree with it.  In actuality, nothing could be farther from the truth.  And we all want Truth!  With that said, may I offer my Forgiveness Formula.

Forgiveness = Freedom

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”  Galatians 5:1  The Message

What happens when we hold a grudge?  Here’s what happens to me.  Someone does something to hurt me, lets call him Bob (Bob is my favorite guy to pick on, no relation to Bob Newhart).  So Bob ticks me off, maybe he says something derogatory about me or maybe he does something mean to my wife.  Anger flares in my mind.  I’m so ticked all I see is red.  I say something and walk away but it’s not enough.  Soon the situation is replaying in my mind over and over.  Things I should have said start coming to me.  “I should have been meaner, I shouldn’t of held back.”  I should have called him a “such-in-such”.  Soon my witty, cutting remarks turn physical, “Man, I should have just decked the sorry sucker.”  “Why didn’t I beat the meanness out of him.”  Then I start thinking about what’s going to happen the next time I see him.  “If he says anything to me this is what I’m going to say….’”  I start rehearsing it like I’m rehearsing lines for a movie, a movie where I’m Arnold and he’s actor “f”, you know, the guy that Arnold kills so fast they didn’t even bother to give him a name. 

On and on I replay and visualize the next encounter until he’s lying dead in a broken bloody heap, yup, Bob’s dead!  OK, OK, maybe I’m being a little dramatic but you get the point.  Here’s the problem, if left unchecked, our anger for that person begins to dominate our thoughts and soon our lives.  Revenge is what we focus on, it consumes us.  If you can’t go a day without thinking about how someone has hurt you, you’re living in un-forgiveness.  If you can’t go a week or even a month without some angry feeling popping up about someone, you’re living in unforgiveness.  Whether you know it or not, you have become a slave to that person.  All you can think about is the wrong you suffered.  It affects your life.  You see things through an anger-filled pair of glasses.

mrs_potato_head_mr_potato_head_toy_story_2_001Have you ever seen the first Toy Story?  Remember when the toys were headed out to  find Woody?  Mrs. Potato Head said to Mr. Potato Head, “Don’t forget you’re angry eyes!”  (Yes, I did just use Mr. Potato Head in a devotion about God- any other requests?)  Sometimes we have angry eyes. 


Anger leads to unforgiveness which in turn leads to bitterness.  Once bitterness and unforgiveness have a hold of you they don’t let go.  That person that you’re angry at now has control of your life.  You are no longer free. 

Quick Hits about forgiveness-

1.  It’s a choice.  You have to choose to let go of every feeling of resentment.  No matter what “Bob” does to you, forgiveness means no longer harboring any anger for them.  “Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13 The Message

2. Give up your “right” to get even.  As a Christ-Follower you don’t actually have a right to get even. “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. "I’ll do the judging," says God. "I’ll take care of it."”  Romans 12:17-19  The Message

3. It’s up to God to deal with people that hurt or abuse you, so let Him.  “For we know the one who said,   “I will take revenge.  I will pay them back.”  Hebrews 10:30  NLT

This doesn’t mean we forget what they did, that’s not possible nor is it preferable.  To forget and allow that person to continue to hurt you is not what we are called to do.  But we must forgive.  We must forgive in order to be free.

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”  Galatians 5:1  The Message 

Look for Part 2 in the series, “The Forgiveness Formula” soon….

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions.

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2 Responses

  1. I do agree with most of it. I don’t think those mean things coming back to your mind means that you haven’t forgiven. Forgiveness doesn’t take away the hurt and pain that person caused. Those feelings of hurt and sometimes resentment can sometimes come back years later, and sometimes I think it is the enemy trying to make you think you haven’t really forgiven them. What I try to do is remind myself that I have forgiven them and of course speak against the lies of the enemy Satan.

    One of the hardest things I find to do is to forgive someone who hasn’t asked for forgiveness. But I am growing in that area. I try to remember that many times, the person doesn’t see what they do or doesn’t see it as a problem area, and its up to God to reveal it to them, definitely not up to me. I am not God or the Holy Spirit, and you should be glad. The Holy Spirit is the One who brings conviction in the heart of the believer, and if the person is an unbeliever, He doesn’t have the Holy Spirit to convince of sin. So that is one of the hardest things–forgiving without being asked, but it is necessary, especially in our closest relationships (spouse, ciblings, parents), and once again, that doesn’t take away the hurt and pain, but it releases you from being that person’s judge. There may still be some walking on pins and needles for a little while, but God can take that away in time. Now I feel like I’m rambling. I will stop now, especially since I”ve been sick and my head is in a fog.

  2. First, I am grateful to know that if I had not read your blog that you would have forgiven me for it. (LOL) Shawn, you did a very good job breaking down the start of a very hard concept.
    My pastor recently did a sermon on forgiveness, and he talked about how we as Christians, many times, do not understand at all the concept of forgiveness. So many times we have this thought that if we forgive that means we have to restore; and that is not the case. God does not command us to restoration, but does command us to forgive.
    I know that I have hurt people in the past; and I have sought forgiveness. Many tell me that they can not forgive because they do not wish to have a relationship with me. I have walked away knowing that I have sought out, and done my part. My chains are broken, but sadly they are still being held back. Then there are the people who I have had to learn to forgive, but several I will not continue a relationship with because their actions continue, or were so damaging that there can not be restoration; even though I am broken from the chains that held me from unforgiveness.
    Love ya, Brother.

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