1. Make sure that you understand and believe the gospel of grace (Rom. 3:19-28). Without the indwelling Holy Spirit and the love He sheds abroad in our hearts, you will not be able to forgive in a way which is acceptable to God (Rom. 5:5).
2. Recognize that an unforgiving attitude is emanating from the flesh and is sinful (1 Thes. 5:15; Rom. 12:17-21).
3. Do not indulge the flesh but judge it (Rom. 13:8-14).
4. Consider the depths of sin from which you have been forgiven and what it must have meant to our Lord Jesus to die for you in order to obtain that forgiveness for you. Your sin against a holy God is infinitely greater than any sin others may commit against you.
5. Consider what your unforgiving attitude is doing to your inward soul life in the form of anger and bitterness (Heb. 12:15). You are doing yourself much more damage in the form of a darkened soul than you could ever do to the person who has wronged you.
6. Forgive the person as an act of the will in obedience to Christ. This is love in action. Do not wait until you “feel” like forgiving. Do not waste time trying to work up kind or affectionate feelings toward the offender. Forgiveness is first extended and then feeling will eventually follow.
7. Pray every day for the spiritual welfare of the offender. It is extremely difficult to remain bitter against someone for whom you consistently pray. God promises a “peace which passes all understanding” as we present all our requests to Him (Phil. 4:6,7).
8. Be prepared for the reappearance of a root of bitterness. These destructive feelings may return for awhile, especially if the offender remains unrepentant or the offense is repeated. Don’t dwell on them. Repeat the above steps and fill your mind with the precious things of Christ (Phil. 4:8). You can control what you think.
9. Use the situation as a spiritual opportunity to allow the Lord to conform you to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28,29). What a marvelous opportunity for you to take your Christianity out of the closet and let it shine before men!
10. Understand the difference between personal forgiveness and personal reconciliation. The former can be a unilateral decision based upon knowledge of God’s grace. The latter has to involve both parties and can take much time and effort. Forgive first and then work toward reconciliation if possible (Rom. 12:14-21).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.