Contrary to common belief, forgiveness is not an act, it is a state of mind. Before true forgiveness is possible you must be strong in yourself and in your own principles. An inability to forgive is a sign of insecurity. So how do you overcome this?
In the Lord´s Prayer we are taught to say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us.” Spiritual forgiveness is a two way process. If you are weak in your own faith, unable to leave judgment to God, you will find it harder to forgive others. The state of mind required to achieve the sublime position of total forgiveness is arrived at as follows:
1) Have complete and total faith in God
2) Leave judgement to God. No one else can see the whole picture.
3) Be secure in yourself by understanding that your own weaknesses are no better or worse than anyone else´s. Understand that you are not perfect but also be safe in the knowledge that it is not perfection which wins you spiritual brownie points but AWARENESS of your weaknesses. Jesus is strong where we are weak. He does not reward pride, arrogance, boastfulness, but humility, meekness and reserve. This is not self-pity, but genuine self-assessment. This is part of the search for the true self, which will be discussed in another article. When you are strong in this way, very little harm can come to you at the hands of others.
4) See the same in others. Understand their weaknesses and the path that has led them to commit an offensive act against you. Do not take it personally. If they have behaved selfishly, violently, fraudulently, or committed any act of atrocity, it is due to a problem they have. They will be punished according to the law of the state and according to the law of God. What more can you do?
5) Be honest with yourself regarding the extent to which your actions might have provoked the offender. Perhaps your inability to forgive is a sign of guilt on your part.
6) Understand that a lack of forgiveness is keeping you chained to the past and doing nothing to right the wrong.
7) Above all, do not let a lack of forgiveness lead to thoughts of vengeance. “Vengeance is mine,” the Lord said. No one else is qualified to take right action.
8) Pray regularly for the state of mind that will bring peace in your life.
9) Please note: this is not a recipe for letting people walk all over you. There are other lessons to learn regarding ways in which you can defend and protect yourself against unprovoked aggressors. But this article is about letting go of feelings which have no useful outlet and serve no function.
10) Believe sincerely that in all things God works to produce the best possible outcome for those who love Him. No matter how badly you have been treated, if you stay firm in your faith, you will come out on top in the end.
Milton Johanides is a retired businessman, church elder, writer and artist. He has been featured on BBC TVs Songs of Praise, owned numerous art galleries and once ran an award winning picture framing business in Scotland. The views expressed in these articles are his own. Web address: http://www.x-ibit-it.com