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Approach Life with a Forgiving Heart

Tips gleaned from Scripture to help you let go of anger and frustration and approach life with a forgiving heart.

Approach Life with a Forgiving Heart
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The New Testament is clear when it comes to how we’re supposed to treat those who have offended us. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” says Ephesians 4:32. Christ sets the standard, and we are to be like Him. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. What strength that requires! I have a young friend who is a ballet dancer. She is one of the most graceful creatures on the face of the earth. To get that way she has put in thousands of hours of work—and she continues to stretch and practice every day.

Becoming a truly forgiving person requires the same level of commitment. Fortunately our days are filled with plenty of opportunities in which to grow stronger! Every little conflict we face gives us another chance to grow into forgiving people. We need to practice every chance we get.

When we refuse to forgive, we surrender ourselves to anger and resentment. Anger is called one of the “seven deadly sins” for good reason. It either explodes and hurts others, or it eats us up inside. Anger hardens our hearts, making them impenetrable to God’s love and mercy. To escape from the prison it builds around our hearts, we must focus on healing instead of revenge. We must “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Praying for people who have hurt or offended us is another important step toward healing. When we pray for someone it changes us as much as the other person. Our hearts can be transformed even if the other person never apologizes.

We don’t have to judge. We don’t have to build our lives around collecting the debts others owe us. God is with us, and we can hand over the judgment and payment collecting to Him. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35).

Did you ever notice that the word give is part of forgive? Forgiveness is a precious gift we’ve received…and one we’re called to give others. But sometimes people get stuck by thinking that if we forgive it’s as if we’re saying that what the other person did didn’t matter. Not so! We can only forgive when there’s something to forgive.

Forgiveness acknowledges that the other person has done something wrong, and is truly at fault. When Christ uttered, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24), He knew every inch of the depth of the deep offense against Him.

God, who is forgiving and good and abounding in love to all who call to Him (Psalm 86:5), is always ready to help us follow His ways. And forgiveness is His way. It is the reason Christ shed his blood, pouring it out “for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). It is why we are called to forgive seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22), and why we must reconcile ourselves with our brothers before presenting our gifts at the altar (Matthew 5:23-24).

Let us ask our Lord daily to give us forgiving hearts!

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