Life circumstances have kept my family from attending church for several weeks. One or more of us has been sick almost since Christmas. Before the break, the church we have been attending was doing a sermon series on Sin Magnets. Members of the church voted and the pastor preached on what we considered to be our top five "sin magnets", or the top 5 temptations in our lives that lead us to sin.
Number 3 on that list was: The Inability to Forgive If you have the time I encourage you to watch this sermon. I was not at church this day, but I really felt the Holy Spirit saying "this is for you", so I sat down and watched it.
The first part of the sermon was the "why" of forgiveness. We know that we are called to because God forgave us. It really started to convict me at about 19 minutes when he got to the "how".
Steps to Forgiveness
1. Accept God's forgiveness for yourself
2. Forgive in the heart first
3. Then, make the first move
4. Forgetting is part of forgiving
I have held on to bitterness many times in my life. I think my problem is that I often forget step 2. I go straight to the action because I want to look like the better person. That is the honest truth.
Now, if I am not letting God into my heart, how can I expect him to bless my actions?
When Pastor Welsh talked about that, it really hit home for me. I started thinking about how my Heavenly Father has forgiven me. What if He was on His Heavenly throne thinking the same kind of bitter thoughts toward me like I have been doing toward others that I have claimed to forgive? I would be absolutely devastated.
That is the thing about grace. It comes straight from the heart. If I want it, I have to be able to give it out, too. Pastor Welsh said "...saying the words 'I forgive you' is not the same as forgiving." This is so much easier said than done. That is where step 5 comes in. Pastor Welsh said that "...you can't stay angry at someone that you honestly pray for every day. The Holy Spirit won't allow that...prayer not only changes our circumstances, prayer changes us..."
I wanted to write this down to write it on my heart. And, if anyone is out there, that like me, wants to forgive, but just doesn't know how to, I hope this helps you as it did me.