"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
From your heart...this is not a superficial forgiveness, but a deep, no loop-hole forgiveness. It sounds good, but the Bible doesn't give us a twelve step program on how to achieve this. Perhaps because each of us is different, we need to find our own path. Although the process offers latitude, the end result doesn't. We need to forgive.
The ability to give grace from our hearts is God's gift. People have been raped, beaten, cheated and destroyed by others, and God does not absolve them from forgiving because the severity of the issue—unforgiveness condemns us. So how do we do it?
Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, represents a perfect example of God’s divine will. His position in Egypt could exact vengeance on brothers who had caused him years of misery. But what did he do? He forgave them all and gave them sanctuary. Because of Joseph’s actions, his family found salvation.
Matthew 18: 35 be says, “…forgive your brother from your heart.” We frequently mouth the words with conviction, but God wants us to go beyond words, beyond confession. He demands forgiveness from the heart.
Heartfelt forgiveness doesn’t condone, doesn’t say, “Gee, no problem.” But it does release us from pain. It does loose forgiveness from heaven. Like Joseph, it can lead our enemies to salvation.
I suppose the first step in forgiving is acting like Joseph—treating the offenders with love and respect. But I’d like to hear from others…how does one forgive when every fiber of our lives is torn? What has helped you?