Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Let’s be honest; it is easier to talk about forgiveness than it is to actually forgive someone who has hurt you. Yet the Bible tells us to forgive one another as Christ forgave us. But how do you forgive family members who consistently hurt you? How do we forgive loved ones who are not sorry for hurting us?
The truth is:
It is easier to forgive a friend or colleague when they hurt you than a family member who continually hurts you. Letting go of the pain and making peace with someone who doesn’t seem to care that they are hurting you is not easy. But we need to do it because God expects us to and for our own peace of mind.
Now, before we dive deep into how to forgive, let us look at what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness Does not Mean
You Condone someone’s Behavior
Many of us think that forgiving someone means condoning their behavior. But that is not true. See, Jesus died while we were still sinners, but that does not mean that God condones sin. (Romans 5:8)
It is not okay for someone to keep hurting you. But it is also not okay for you to hold a grudge against them.
Forgiveness means the Absence of Pain
Are you waiting for the pain to go away before you can forgive your loved one?
Forgiveness does not mean the absence of pain. You need to rise above the pain and forgive your loved ones. See, waiting for the pain to go away doesn’t mean that the person will stop hurting you. In fact, you will find it hard to forgive them later on because the wounds will be profound.
Forgiveness means Reconciliation
Some of our family members hurt us so badly that it becomes difficult for us to reconcile with them.
Could it be that you do not want to forgive your parents, siblings, or relatives because you think doing so means reconciling with them? Well, that is not the case. Though it is good to reconcile, forgiveness does not mean you have to do it immediately. You can reconcile with that person later on, but you need to forgive them first.
Why Forgiveness is so Important
Frees You from Bitterness
People who harbor unforgiveness in their hearts are always resentful and bitter towards those who hurt them. But the truth is bitterness is like poison, it defiles us (Hebrews 12:15). Forgiving your family member will free you from resentment.
Helps you Move Forward
Some of us find ourselves rotating around the same issues. Like the children of Israel, we keep rotating around the same mountain. No matter what we try to do, we find ourselves going back to the same place that we have been for many years.
Does this sound familiar? Could it be that you are going through this because you have not forgiven a family member?
Unforgiveness will hinder you from moving forward. It will block the promises of God from manifesting in your life. How is that possible? Unforgiveness will open up doors for the enemy to kill, steal, and destroy you. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Forgiveness is an act of obedience
You may feel justified to hold a grudge against your family member for hurting you. It may be difficult for you to understand why you need to forgive that person.
But here is the truth; God did not give up his only Son because we asked him to forgive us first. He did not sacrifice his only son because you are a good person. We are told to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). So it is possible to forgive someone even when you do not feel like it.
Steps to Forgiveness [Biblical]
Entrust your Loved One to God
You might be planning revenge on your loved one. After all, they really hurt you, and they’re not even sorry for what they did to you. Maybe the only thing that is holding you back is the fact that you are a Christian.
Well, this is hard, but how about entrusting them to God.
God says that vengeance is his. So surrender this person to God and let him deal with him or her the best way he knows how to. It may not be to your liking but know that God knows how to deal with us. (Romans 12:19)
Talk to the Person who Hurt you
The word of God says that if your brother offends you, go to him and point out their fault privately. (Matthew 18:15) Maybe you’ve not told the person who offended you their fault. You may think that they hurt you intentionally, but sometimes people hurt us without even knowing.
What may be offensive to you might not mean anything to the other person. So they may not know how much they are hurting you. Approach the person calmly and tell them how you feel.
Now, just because you’re taking the first step does not mean that they will admit their mistakes or even be sorry. Be ready for anything.
Involve Other Parties
Matthew 18:16-18 tells us that when your brother does not admit his mistake, you should involve one or two people to make things right with him. If he refuses, then you can involve the Church. Involving other people or the Church may cause the person to see reason and change their ways.
Pray for them
In Matthew 5:44, we are told to pray for those who persecute us. We can also choose to pray for those that offend us. When you pray, it means that you are presenting that person to God so that he can deal with their hearts. You may try to talk to someone, but that does not necessarily mean they will listen or change.
Some people will try to convince you that they have changed and they will never hurt you again. But after reconciliation, they will continue to abuse or offend you. Praying for them means that you are asking God to deal with their hearts so that they can stop hurting you. It means you’re letting go and letting God.
Speak Words of Blessings not Negative Talk
Most times, when our family members hurt us, it feels right to speak negatively about them. You may start telling other people how someone has hurt you and, in the process, talk negatively about them. But that is not what your heavenly Father wants from you child of God. It is better to speak words of blessings towards those people.
We are told to repay evil with good. So, treat your loved one right and bless them. (Romans 12:21)
All in all
Forgiving a person who has offended you more so one who is not sorry for what they have done is very difficult. But our heavenly Father expects us to forgive others, so you should forgive family members who consistently hurt you. You need to understand that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation, absence of pain, or that you condone someone’s behavior.
Forgiveness will free you from bitterness and help you to move forward with your life. Do not hold onto a grudge instead entrust the person who has hurt you to God. Talk to the person, let them know that they’ve offended you. Pray for them, and avoid negative talk by speaking words of blessings over them.