Beliefnet
Next Steps

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP FIVE: day 5

Release your hurt through forgiveness

Imagine how weightless, how joyful, how free your life would be if you were able to release the hurt that has built up in your life. Imagine how freeing it would be if your happiness and contentment were no longer held hostage by those who have hurt you in the past. Imagine how different your everyday world would be if you were able to truly forgive yourself and move past your past. Forgiving someone for the hurt, neglect or abuse they caused you is not condoning their behavior. By letting go of the hurt and choosing to forgive, you are moving aside and making room for God’s wrath. God has been and always will be a better avenger than you, but you have to step out of the way first and release your hurt through forgiveness.

How do you know you’ve truly forgiven someone? What does it look like? Forgiveness has happened when you can honestly say: they don’t owe me anything anymore. When you can say, She doesn’t owe me my childhood anymore. He doesn’t owe me my innocence anymore. He or she doesn’t owe me anything anymore. When you can honestly say that, it’s a sign that you’ve truly embraced forgiveness and you have been able to move past your past.

When you’re finally able to move past your past, you’ll discover a present and a future that is exploding with potential, free from the cancer of bitterness and hurt that has crippled you for far too long. As Jesus asked the lame man by the pool “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:5), if you’re ready to get well, to be free, release your hurt through forgiveness and trust God to avenge you.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. How has your view of forgiveness and its power in your life changed over this past week?

2. Read Philippians 3:13-14. How do you think forgiveness could truly help you move past your past and begin to step into the freedom God has for you?

 

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP FIVE: day 4

Release your hurt through forgiveness

What does it look like on a practical level to release your hurt through forgiveness? It is more than simply saying the words, “I forgive you.” Here are four steps to forgiveness:

  1. Meditate on how much God has forgiven you. Many times unforgiveness begins to feed upon itself, magnifying our hurts until they dwarf out everything else. When we intentionally meditate (through Scripture, song or reflection) on just how much God has forgiven us, everything begins to come back to its proper balance.
  2. Try and see them from a different perspective. Hurt people hurt people. Because our pain causes us to look inward, it is not natural for us to try and see things from their perspective. This never excuses their behavior, but it may help explain it. For example if someone has betrayed you perhaps it’s because they were betrayed as a child and it was the only way they were taught to interact with others, as destructive as it might be.
  3. Decide that their harm is not worth your continued pain. Your unforgiveness does much more damage to you than it does to them. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. You have to choose to put the poison down.
  4. Trust that God will avenge you. Forgiveness is ultimately about trust. If you choose to forgive, do you trust God to avenge you and hold them accountable?

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. Of the four steps listed today, which one seems the easiest? Which one seems the hardest?

2. Read Romans 12:19-21. How does this change your view of how God avenges those who have hurt you? What happens when you choose to forgive and be kind instead of choosing revenge and unforgiveness?

 

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP FIVE: day 3

Release your hurt through forgiveness

Before his very eyes, Joseph had the opportunity to pay back his brothers for the harm they had caused him years before. In the book of Genesis, we see the story of twelve brothers, the sons of Israel. Joseph was the favorite son and everyone knew it, especially Joseph. His brothers, filled with jealousy, seized an opportunity to gang up on him when their father wasn’t looking. Joseph was sold into slavery to the neighboring Egyptians and their father was told Joseph had been torn apart by wild animals. As the years go on, the brothers move on, assuming that Joseph would never be heard from again, even if he was still alive.

Joseph was not only very much alive, but God was guiding his steps from slavery to the second highest position of power in all of Egypt, to guide the nation through a prophesied famine. So when unbeknownst to them the brothers find themselves standing in front of the mighty Joseph (now known as Zaphenath-Paneah) begging for food, Joseph literally had their lives in his hands. But instead of paying them back, he did something shocking: he forgave them.

“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid.’” Genesis 50:19-21

Instead of retaliating, Joseph chose to release his hurt through forgiveness. If he could do it, so can you.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. If you had the chance to confront those who have hurt you the most and if you could make them feel the pain they caused you, would you? What do you think that would accomplish?

2. Joseph could move past his bitterness because he could see the hand of God behind even the tragedies in his life. Are you at a place where you could say the same thing?

 

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.

The following is a devotion from my message series 10 Steps to Freedom. I hope these devotionals help you experience lasting freedom in Jesus!

STEP FIVE: day 2

Release your hurt through forgiveness

In Matthew 6 Jesus gives the famous Lord’s Prayer which starts with “Our Father in heaven.” When he finishes a few verses later he chooses only one part of the prayer to explain further, perhaps it’s because it’s the one part of the prayer he knew we would struggle with the most. It’s the part about forgiveness.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors . . . For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:12, 14-15

Verse 12 literally reads in the original language “forgive us our debts in proportion to the forgiveness we show our debtors.” So if we come to God with unforgiveness in our hearts, hurts that we refuse to move past, then when we pray we are essentially asking God not to forgive us, because we have refused to forgive others. Jesus doesn’t teach this because he’s trying to hold us hostage to forgiveness, but because he knows how it is actually unforgiveness that holds us hostage. God’s not trying to manipulate us, He’s trying to motivate us. God knows that unforgiveness imprisons the unforgiver much more than it imprisons the unforgiven. Jesus wants us to forgive others because he wants us to be free from the pain, bitterness, rage and anger that come from unforgiveness. You can’t be free until you are able to forgive others for the hurt they have caused you, and until you are able to forgive yourself.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION

1. If your forgiveness from God is directly tied to your forgiveness of others, how much forgiveness are you experiencing from God right now? How much unforgiven hurt is currently weighing you down?

2. Read Colossians 3:13. Forgiveness is never easy, but it is absolutely necessary. What is the biggest reason holding you back from truly forgiving others in your life?

 

You can read other devotional entries for 10 Steps to Freedom here.