To forgive is a decision to release or set someone free that has done wrong to us. It is canceling the debt we are owed by them.
Lewis Smedes suggested that three things happen when we forgive another person:
1) We rediscover the humanity of the person who hurt us.
When we are hurt we can find ourselves defining the person who hurt us by what they did to us. When we forgive we’re reminded that the person who hurt us isn’t just defined by what they did to us. They are no different than us – a sinner – a person who experiences failure – someone with weaknesses.
2) We surrender our right to get even.
When I’m hurt I want to lash out and settle the score. But when we forgive we take the person who hurt us off our hook and place them on God’s hook.
3) We begin to renew our feelings about the person who did us wrong.
It may take some time, but when we forgive we begin to pray that God would bless the person who hurt us. We begin to wish them well (even if partially mean it.) This is sure sign that forgiveness is freeing us.
I resist forgiving because I don’t want to give up my right to get even. I don’t want to let them go because I feel powerful when I hold something over another person. I avoid forgiveness because I forget that the person who hurt me needs it just as much as I do.
But, the truth of forgiveness is found in a quote by Corrie Ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor, who said,“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”
Forgiveness leads to freedom. For the person who hurt you and ultimately you.
Have you ever forgiven someone and actually wished them well?