1. Through the power of God’s Spirit.
Our natural inclination when we, or someone we love, are wounded isn’t forgiveness. Instead, we want the offender to pay. In short we want revenge. Our hurt leads to anger. Our pride takes over. The only way we can truly forgive others is through the power of God’s Spirit. Christ died in our place to pay a debt we never could. God accepted His sacrifice on our behalf. Forgiveness is indeed divine and flows from God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We cannot do in our own strength what God intends to do through us.
2. Through prayer.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” -Matthew 5:43-45 (NASB)
3. Through faith.
As our Sovereign Lord, God sees and knows everything while we see only a small piece of the puzzle. So one way in which our faith and forgiveness are entwined is when we hand our hurt and our desire for justice and vindication over to Him. In effect, we say, “God, I’m giving this offense to You. I trust You to do what’s right and best for everyone.”
4. Through obedience.
5. Through humility.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” -Colossians 3:12-13 (NASB)
As mentioned previously, unforgiveness often stems from human pride. So it only makes sense that part of the remedy is humility. Even Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae, recognized the importance of humility in forgiveness. And as followers of Christ, we are to follow in His steps, as someone who humbled Himself through a series of demotions (Philippians 2:3-7).
Though I still struggle with forgiving others from time to time, these five Biblical steps have been so helpful to me. With God’s help through prayer, faith, obedience, and humility, we can arrive at the place where we’re able to forgive even the inexcusable.