How do you know if you have forgiven someone?
I want to talk to you about forgiveness. It can be hard to forgive those who have hurt you. The big question is how do you know when you have forgiven someone? I heard on the radio the other day, when you can look someone without the stink face. Then there is another question, just because I can now hear the person’s name and not feel rage boiling inside me, do I have to still be friends with them? Have I really forgiven them if I don’t want to be with them? In my life, and I am sure in yours as well, there have been many people that have hurt you. Recently, I ran into someone that I thought I had forgiven and when I first saw them I was able to give a polite all be it a curt hello. Then I had to sit by them and the rage started. This person has treated me terribly. Now I realize I am back to square one with forgiving this person. What did I do? I asked for prayer. I need help; I am obviously unable to forgive this person on my own. Sometimes, you must ask God to remove this from your heart. But now that I feel as if I have again forgiven this person, the rage of yesterday is gone. I still do not like the person. Which of course begs the question, do I have to like someone that has hurt me to say they are forgiven. I believe that the answer to that question is a big fat NO. There are just some people that are not good for us.
Take my abusive Ex-husband for example. I can hear his name and not feel rage, but I do not want to associate with him. And this is a good thing. God does not expect us to compromise our integrity by hanging with people that have hurt you especially if being around reopens wounds.
What about relatives, you must associate with these people, yet the pain of what they did is still there. You have tried to forgive them, but every time you must associate with them, they do something new that irritates you. Which means here you are forgiving them again. Jesus told Peter to forgive 70 times 7 Matthew 18:22. I can hear it now so I only should forgive 490 times? No that is 490 times for each thing that they do. This does not count forgiving your husband 490 times for squeezing the toothpaste from the center. That is so small that you shouldn’t even count it. If you are holding a grudge because of something small, then you need help. Seriously you need some counseling there is a bigger issue. But forgive the driver in the red car that cuts you off 490 times. Not for each time, but for each time that they do it on any given road.
The real point behind the 70 times 7 is that if you are keeping track for 490 times, then you have too much time on your hand, and you have bigger problems because you do not understand forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you are not holding that stupid thing that they did and allowing it to eat you up inside. I am certain that the person I had to sit next to the other day does not think about me unless we see each other somewhere. We are related in such a way that they should think about me. They should wonder how I am doing. I know by the little bit of conversation, I do not enter their mind at all. Which brings me to another point on forgiveness, if you can pray for them; most likely you have forgiven them. That is a bigger cue than not holding in the stink face. Just because you can smile at someone, does not mean anything. But prayer, well we can’t pray for someone we have not forgiven. The words will stick in your throat. Try it, Lord, be with that person that has hurt me, and if the words stick in your throat and you can’t say them, you have not forgiven them. If you can you pray for them then you have forgiven them. The person I keep mentioning? I pray for her all the time. That does not mean that the next time I run into her that I won’t feel rage and all the stupid stuff won’t pop back into my mind. But I know that each time, I will be able to dismiss it.
Because you know what else I realized? I realized that Satan likes to trick me into thinking dang; here I am feeling angry at so and so. Satan will try to trick you into thinking that you have not forgiven them. Sometimes he will succeed for a brief time. He will not succeed if you take this to Jesus. He won’t succeed if you pray or ask other to pray. Once you pray, the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth inside you. Often, new anger will confuse you into thinking you are still mad about something that happened over ten years ago. Forgiving others can sometimes be like a light switch. You must keep forgiving. You should realize this is a new thing.
I still haven’t answered hanging out with them? Some people are bad for you. You do not have to be a doormat to prove you are a good Christian. The world looks at us under a microscope watching and waiting for us to make a mistake. The world should look at Jesus; he is the only one who ever lived a perfect life. Jesus is God and the only one that can live a perfect life. Sure, we should try to be good examples. Just because we trip all the time and make mistakes, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
I have heard that you are the only “Jesus” some people see. I hate that saying. I am not Jesus. What we should say is “let them see the light of Jesus through me”. There is nothing you can do to prove you are a good Christian and Thank God, Jesus doesn’t expect us to prove we are good Christians. He just expects us to accept Him as our savior and Lord. That person that hurts you over and over, walk away. It is not a good relationship. Pray that God sends someone into their life that can show them the Light of the World. Hanging out with someone that hurts you over and over is asking for Satan to sit in your life. What??? See the more they hurt you, the harder it is to forgive them. Unforgiveness is a black dot on our lives, it separates us from Jesus.
If the time comes when God wants you to reflect His light to them; God will give you the strength and he will let you know that the time has come for you to share Jesus with them. Until that day, let them be.
Just remember the forgiveness test, “can you pray for them?”