Most, if not all, of us have been wronged at some point in our lives. Whether it’s being hurt as a child, disappointed as an adolescent, or wronged as an adult. Perhaps a boyfriend or girlfriend dumped you as a teenager. Or you’ve been wrongfully accused of something you didn’t do. The scenarios are endless, but the hurt still remains.
I recall one time in elementary school a book accidentally slid out of my desk during “quiet time” and landed on the floor with a big bang. This resulted in my immediate dismissal to the principal’s office where I was quickly reprimanded. As I look back on this event, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But isn’t it interesting that I still remember this experience as vividly as if it just happened yesterday? The hurt from that moment still remains.
What are some painful events of your past? What are some painful events you’ve experienced and still feel the emotions as if it just occurred?
The more important question is what can you do about them? The biblical answer is forgiveness.
4 Keys of Forgiveness
1. Let Go of Past Events.
In Eph. 4:32, Paul instructs us, “Be kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Forgiveness is all about letting go of those past events, shedding our resentments, and releasing any desire to “get even” with those whom have wronged us. This also includes the longing for revenge on the person that has harmed us–even long after the affront.
2. Allow Yourself to Forgive.
Not being able to forgive does a lot more harm than good. You are consumed by all types of negative feelings, which continue to grow the longer you hang on to your anger. We may constantly replay the offending situation in our minds, which serves only to crowd out our more positive thoughts.
3. Understand What Forgiveness Truly Means
Forgiveness might play a bigger role in our lives if we truly understood what it means and how it can be beneficial. Forgiving an offender doesn’t mean that you condone what they’ve done. Nor does it mean that you have to forget the transgression. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you minimize the severity of the wrong done. Forgiveness is more about YOU as a forgiver than about the person being forgiven. And when you experience true forgiveness, it will begin to free you from the negative feelings that have imprisoned you, your mind, and your emotions.
4. Let God Take Control
For most of us, forgiveness isn’t something that happens automatically. Like many other things in our lives it’s a process, and we are sinful people who want justice for wrongs done to us. Every time we find our selves rehearsing the offending event, we must train ourselves to give it to God and trust Him to take care of it. He is ultimately in control and trusting in God allows us to move forward in our life and focus on the positives of forgiveness.
Conflict resolution is something all churches and individuals can do a better job on. We need to ensure that we are working towards a Biblical model of forgiveness that gives life to the situation and allows us to focus on serving Him the best we can.
Dr. Aubrey Malphurs is the Founder and Visionary Leader of the Malphurs Group (a church consulting firm) and the Senior Professor of Leadership and Pastoral Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. He frequently writes on Pastoral Ministry, Church Leadership Development, Strategy, and Vision and also serves churches and denominations as a Consultant and Speaker (The Malphurs Group church consulting team also provides Leadership Coaching and Sunday Secret Shopper Consultations). He is also a husband, father, grandfather, fisherman, and a diehard Florida Gator fan. | @amalphurs | website