Part 1: What Is Heart-Based forgiveness?

Posted by on Jun 18, 2016 in Forgiveness, Heart-Based | 0 comments

Part 1: What Is Heart-Based forgiveness?

Forgiveness is key to experiencing more peace and joy in our lives. The parable of the unforgiving servant helps us to more fully understand the process of forgiveness (see Matt. 18:21-35). I suggest you read this parable in its entirety.

Jesus tells about a king’s slave who was forgiven his substantial debt by the king, but refused to forgive another man who owed him a small amount of money. This angered the king, who handed the slave over to torturers. Jesus warns that a similar fate can befall anyone who refuses to forgive others from the heart.

In heart-based forgiveness, something must take place deep inside us, not just a mental agreement and then brush it away as done and unimportant. It requires psychological and emotional honesty with yourself and with God. Otherwise forgiveness may take place only in your mind, not your heart.

To be real, forgiveness must touch our heart in some significant way, so that we let go of our need to make someone pay for their transgressions. This is what I want to present in the next several blogs.

In this blog I’ll list the key aspects of heart-based forgiveness and then talk about the first three of them. We’ll develop the other elements in more detail in subsequent blogs.

14 aspects of forgiveness from the heart

  1. Awareness of our need
  2. Acknowledge we have been sinned against
  3. Take an account of what happened & what is owed
  4. Acknowledge anger is a normal reaction to injustice
  5. Recognize the transgressor (offender) is unable to repay the debt
  6. Stop demanding the transgressor changes
  7. Disconnect transgressors from their sins
  8. Agree to live with consequences of transgressor’s sin
  9. Release the transgressor (offender)
  10. Touches our emotional core
  11. Happens internally in our heart: compassion
  12. Stop speaking evil against transgressor & wish them well
  13. Motivated by obedience to the Lord
  14. Requires courage

1. Awareness of our need

Often we are not aware of our need for forgiveness or that we need to forgive someone else until the Holy Spirit makes us aware of it. Sometimes this awareness occurs suddenly, but other times it may be gradual, perhaps because of the pain surrounding the wrongful act.

Usually forgiveness is motivated by some kind of awareness that the wrongs we are holding onto are just not worth it. In fact, they are hurting us more than the other person. This awareness enables us to acknowledge our anger and resentment and to feel our pain, sadness, and hurt.

2. Acknowledge we have been sinned against

Forgiveness requires us to acknowledge that we have been hurt by another person’s sin. We must not sanction or condone their transgression, nor rationalize or explain their unjust behavior.

As Christians we tend to pretend that something did not hurt us, but we are deceiving ourselves. Denying our painful response only creates more problems for us in the future. We swallow the emotions, taking them deep inside where they can do damage to us later in life.

Forgiveness is you dealing with the truth and leaving the other person to God. Positive feelings will follow in time; freeing yourself from the past is the critical issue right now (Ed Smith).

3. Take an account of what happened & what is owed

The king needed to know what the servant owed him (Matt 18:24).

Before we can cut off or dismiss the debt, it is necessary to know exactly what was done or not done and the extent of the damage

a. Identify why you need to forgive this person.

What was the wrong thing they did to you or fail to do for you? How did they sin against you? Describe the specific way they hurt you.

b. State how their sin made you feel

Acknowledge what you felt. What he/she did made me feel (put a name the feeling). True heart forgiveness must go deep, touching our emotional core.

c. Establish what their sin cost you

Identify exactly what you think their debt is. He/she owes me (name it). What do you expect from them?

If we are unable to access our pain, we can ask the Holy Spirit to bring it into the light. Once the pain is unleashed, the debt will become apparent. It will also become apparent that the transgressor cannot repay what is owed (Ed Smith).


Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the riches of your kindness, knowing that its has led me to repentance. I confess that I have not always shown that same kindness toward others who have offended me. Instead I have held bitterness and resentment against them. I ask You to bring to my mind those people who I need to forgive, and to give me Your grace that I may do so. In the name of Jesus Christ I ask this,  Amen.

As you pray, God may bring to mind offending people and experiences you have totally forgotten. Let him do it, even if it is painful.


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