We have looked at the first two stages in the forgiving process and will complete this with one final stage in the process of forgiving. The first stage is in a nutshell about recognizing the humanity of the person you need to forgive, including yourself. The second stage is about giving up the right for vengeance; taking the judgment out of your hands and putting it rightfully into the hands of God. In the last stage, we are fulfilling the call to forgive as we have been forgiven and to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) We need to pray for the person who hurt us.
We cannot see inside another person’s heart. We do not know the pain and hurts this person has been scarred from. There is no single person who can see and know the wounds a person may have that are festering rather than healing. But God knows. So, we recognize the humanity, release the right for vengeance and take the needs of this person to God even when we don’t know specifically what they are.
It’s Not About the Specifics
In other cases, we may be able to see a specific need this person has even if they can’t see it in themselves. In my conflict with the new preschool director last year, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit of what her sin was. We are called by the Holy Spirit to convict others of their sin that they may repent but my anger at what she had done to me was overwhelming. Doing the hard thing is loving our enemies.
I prayed to the Lord that he would open her eyes to seeing her own sin and be able to repent. I prayed often for her to see how what she did hurt others. It was my continuing prayer for her even when she was ultimately put in the position to resign as the director of the preschool. Vengeance was not my desire for her. I wasn’t asking God to take this job from her but rather prayed for her soul that she would be sanctified by the conviction of her own sin; that she would be able to grow from this in becoming more of who God wants her to be.
Seeking the Lord is Key
In each stage of forgiving, we are looking not at ourselves but seeking and ultimately, I pray seeing the truth that will set us free. The truth will free us from the anger that binds us and wants to hold us captive in the walls of bitterness and resentment. The enemy wants to divide us. We have to stand firm and seek the Lord to help us do all he calls us to do even when it is very hard. The Lord will provide your peace, your healing and the grace you need to forgive those who have hurt you and forgive yourself. The first vital step is seeking God.