Part 3: What Is Heart-Based Forgiveness?

Posted by on Jun 19, 2016 in Forgiveness | 0 comments

Part 3: What Is Heart-Based Forgiveness?

In heart-based forgiveness, some type of spiritual event usually takes place in the heart of the wounded person that empowers them to release an offender from their debt. We will know when we have truly released someone from their trespass when we think of it and feel only a rush of joy and love.

Blog #22 listed 14 aspects of forgiving from the heart. Here I’ll discuss the last seven aspects.

8. Agree to live with consequences of transgressor’s sin

In forgiving offenders, we are agreeing to live with the consequences of their sins. This is why we need to do some groundwork: Do you know how their sin has affected you? What price have you paid for it? What did you lose?

A drunk driver hits your car, you are injured, and your child is killed. You will live with the consequences of that person’s sin for the rest of your life, whether you want to or not. This is why, when we forgive, we need to understand exactly what the unjust action was and what it cost us.

Forgiveness is costly. Jesus took the consequences of our sins upon himself. All true forgiveness is substitutionary, because no one really forgives without bearing the consequences of the other person’s sin. God the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Where is the justice? It’s the cross that makes forgiveness legally and morally right: “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all.” (Neil Anderson)

9. Release the transgressor from the debt

The lord of that slave felt compassion and forgave (released) him from the debt.

Through forgiveness, we can dismiss the debt someone owes us. We are saying, “I no longer require you to suffer the way you made me suffer.” In releasing the transgressor of his or her debt, we are free of the anger and the stresses of maintaining the note of debt.

When we want to take our own revenge, we are setting ourselves up as God, even though he says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.”

10. Touches our emotional core with compassion

The lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  

The king is feeling something which allows him to freely release the servant of the debt. The feeling of “compassion” exposes the true heart of the king.

The evidence of heart-based forgiveness is compassion. When people are willing to revisit the hurt caused by their transgressor and go to the Lord with their pain, compassion is a natural by-product that surfaces (Ed Smith).

Compassion is the benevolent emotion we express toward another with whom we have made some inner identification. It says I know the pain you carry, for I too have carried a similar burden. Feeling compassion can bear us up in a way that nothing else can.

11. Happens internally in our heart

Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?

Forgiveness is a merciful response from our heart to someone who has unjustly hurt us. This is possible when we see our transgressor in new light. We get a new picture of a needy, weak, complicated and fallible human being like us.

Conversion of the heart is the critical stage toward forgiveness. Once we see that every human being has inherited a corrupted seed from Adam, blame dies. And the heart becomes postured with an attitude of forgiveness toward the person.

 … if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart (Matt. 18:35).

Stirring up of divine love

It was the nature of Jesus to forgive; and when we receive him into our hearts, we receive his nature, loving and forgiving. The same spirit that was in Jesus is in us too, so we are also able to forgive. Real forgiveness is the giving of the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit to one who needs it (John & Paula Sandford).

I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44).

12. Stop speaking evil against transgressor & wish them well

We must decide that we will bear the burdens of others’ offenses by not using that information against them in the future. When we speak evil against someone, we open ourselves to judgment..

Every man of you who passes judgment for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself (Romans 2:1).

However, there may be times when some may be required to testify for the sake of justice but not for the purpose of seeking revenge from a bitter heart.

13. Motivated by obedience to the Lord

Heart-based forgiveness is motivated by obedience to the Lord. Since Jesus tells us to forgive, it is something we can do. We can make a decision to release someone from our retaliation now. We must not wait until we feel like it.

You say, “You don’t understand how much this person hurt me!” But don’t you see, they are still hurting you! How do you stop the pain? You don’t forgive someone for their sake; you do it for your own sake so you can be free. Your need to for­give isn’t an issue between you and the offender; it’s between you and God (Unknown).

The Spirit of God dwelling in you gives you the ability to think like your Father, act like your Father, talk like your Father, and forgive like your Father, whether you feel like it or not. God does not wait until He feels like it to forgive us. Do you think Jesus felt like forgiving while He was on the cross?

Dr. Ed Smith warns us not to say, “Lord, please help me to forgive,” because he is already helping you. Do not say, “Lord, I want to forgive,” because you are bypassing the hard-core choice which is your responsibility.

14. Requires courage

Forgiveness requires courageous people who are willing to confront their own pain, accept themselves as permanently changed, and make difficult choices. Then they can live in the freedom that forgiveness brings them.

Many feel the pain of interpersonal offenses, but they don’t have the courage or know how to acknowledge it. We need to ask God to bring the pain to the surface so wounds can be healed.

Never pressure others to forgive

Years ago I witnessed an abuse of power by a clergy. We were watching a film on sexual abuse (patients & staff), when a few patients began to curl up in pain sobbing. The room hushed. The other patients were quietly present and compassionate. Then the resident clergy spoke up, telling them that they needed to forgive their abusers. The room exploded in anger. “No,” the patients called out!

We need to know how to help people out of a compassionate heart. To weep with those who weep. To be with them while they remember the wrongs committed against them. To witness their pain. To help them make an account of the wrongs they have suffered. To understand what the sins of others have cost them. Remember, Jesus healed people out of compassion—not judgment.

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury pardon … For it is in … pardoning that we are pardoned” (Francis of Assisi).

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