Driving Nails to Kill

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True forgiveness is not about mind games and dream worlds—it's not about escaping reality. It's about facing reality and dealing with it God's way.

Here are three helpful steps on how to choose forgiveness from Nancy Leigh DeMoss: 

1. Identify the people who have wronged you and the way(s) they have sinned against you. 

Take a blank sheet of paper and draw two lines from top to bottom, forming three even columns down the page. In the left column, write the names of all those who have sinned against you... Then in the middle column, write out the specific offense (or offenses) each one has committed against you. How did they wrong you? Be specific. 

It's important to realize that forgiveness does not mean pretending that the offense never happened. That's not honest. That's denial. True forgiveness is not about mind games and dream worlds—it's not about escaping from reality. It's about facing reality and dealing with it God's way.

2. Make sure your conscience is clear toward each of the individuals on your list.

That's what the third column on your paper is for. Ask yourself, "How have I responded to this person?" Then record your answer. 

  • Have you blessed them?
  • Have you loved them?
  • Have you prayed for them?
  • Have you forgiven them?

The truth is that you're not responsible for what goes in that middle column. You didn't ask for it, didn't invite it, don't deserve it. But you are responsible—solely and fully responsible—for what goes in the third column.

Once you've identified those people who have wronged you, once your conscience is clear with the Lord and with those individuals—you've sought forgiveness for anything you've done to them. . .it's time to take the next—and what may be the hardest—step in your journey.

3. Choose to fully forgive every person who has sinned against you.

You don't have to feel like it. You don't have to want to. But if you want to be an obedient child of God, you've got to forgive . . . There's just no detour around this point in the journey to freedom in Christ. "If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him" (Mark 11:25). 

As you respond to the Lord in this matter, be sure not to stop short of actually forgiving your offenders. I've heard sincere, well-meaning people pray, "Lord, please help me to forgive this person." I've heard others say, "I know I need to forgive him . . ." I don't doubt their sincerity, but that's not enough. Don't just ask God for help; don't just talk about your need to forgive. Go all the way. Say, "Lord, by Your grace and in obedience to You, I choose to forgive. I do forgive!" 

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