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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Five Habits to Help you Forgive

Forgiving that person who hurt or insulted you might seem impossible, but it helps to remember that forgiveness is a skill you can learn and practice. Clinging to grudges and rehashing old wounds are learned behaviors that can be exposed and unlearned as you grow into a more forgiving lifestyle.

Below are five habits* that can help you to practice generous, constructive responses to life’s bumps and bruises.

Habit #1: Forgive what you can. – Forgiving is a process that often takes time to unfold, especially if your wounds are deep. Decide what you can let go of today, and ask God for the healing you need to let go of more tomorrow.

Habit #2: Seek forgiveness from others. – Admitting we when we are wrong and asking to be forgiven both humbles and cleanses us. Practice asking others for their forgiveness, and then let the mercy you receive soften your heart toward those who need mercy from you.

Habit #3: Pray for your offender. – Ironically, the one person whom you simply cannot bring yourself to pray for is the one person you most need to be in prayer about! Bring all your anger and hurt and resistance into the sanctuary of God’s presence and allow Him to fill you with the healing resources you need to move beyond your wounding.

Habit #4: Speak carefully. – The language of forgiveness is gentle and loving, patient and kindly, always seeking to heal and build up rather than to attack and tear down. Give up gossip and backbiting and practice speaking in a tone and language that honor God.

Habit #5: Encourage peacemaking. – We are called to peacemaking because restoring broken relationships is so close to God’s loving heart. When you respond with love instead of hatred and with mercy instead of condemnation, you make visible to the world the very nature of your heavenly Father.

Keep in mind, God doesn’t intend for you to forgive all on your own! Whatever He asks you to do, depend upon Him to give you the grace and the strength to do it. Forgiving your enemies is a sacred endeavor that has spiritual consequences, both for you and for your enemies. Obey God by returning good for the evil you receive, and trust in His sovereign authority and wisdom to judge.

*adapted from A Devotional Walk with Forgiveness by Judith Ingram, available from Amazon.com in Kindle, paperback, and audio versions:


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