The Grace to Forgive


birthday giftsQuickly name the 5 people you most struggle to forgive. Name the folks you resent. Hate. Dislike. Feel hurt by.

Maybe you didn’t think of 5. Perhaps it was 2. Or 10. Whatever the number is, the truth is we all struggle to forgive at times.

We believe we should. It’s biblical. We often say we forgive, but then we think of that face. The face of the one who hurt us. The one who betrayed us. Let us down. Mistreated us. Ignored us. And that feeling rises in our heart right along with our blood pressure and there it is. Anger. Resentment. Bitterness.

However you paint it, the core issue is a much more vulnerable feeling than the anger and its defensive friends. The core issue is hurt.

How often we say, “It didn’t really matter.” “I don’t really care.” “It didn’t hurt me.” All of which can be interpreted like waving a big red flag that says, “I’m really hurt and I can’t/don’t want to admit it.”

Yet there is that tender spot. That trigger. That unhealed wound.

Ignoring it will not heal it. Denying it won’t make it disappear. Minimizing it will not make its effects less deadly.

What will help is opening your heart to God. Naming the truth of your pain and accessing the grace to forgive.

Easy. Right?

Not always.

Forgiveness begins with a decision. A choice.  The choice is often followed by a process where, like peeling layers on a onion, we deal with one layer only to find out there is still another and another.

From the initial choice and through the peeling of the layers, grace is required.

There are many definitions of grace. God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Unmerited favor.  The love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.  It is a spontaneous gift from God to man – "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" – that takes the form of divine favor and love.

I particularly like a definition my husband uses: Grace is the power and desire to do the will of God. This grace is supplied by God Himself.

Grace allows us to forgive. Empowers us to forgive. Energizes us to do God’s will.

Grace gifts us with what we don’t deserve and allows us to gift others with what they don’t deserve.

The need to forgive doesn’t always walk hand in hand with the need to restore a relationship. Some relationships are abusive. Unhealthy. Draining. But even if the relationship doesn’t need fixing, our hearts always do.

Proverbs 4:23 says that we are to guard our hearts with all diligence because all the issues of life flow from our hearts. In other words, we must diligently attend to having a pure heart or it will affect everything else in our life.

Hebrews 12:15 warns us that when we allow bitterness and unforgiveness to remain in our hearts, it will spring up and grow and the end result will be destruction.

The well-known adage says that holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

Are you struggling to forgive? Make a decision to release the offense.  Walk through the process by grace. One day at a time. One moment at a time.

The grace to forgive. It’s a gift we can open. Untie the ribbon. Unwrap the paper. Open the box. The gift of grace is a gift of life and hope and love and it’s yours to give, both to others and to yourself.


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  1. Sandra Harper says:

    Another wonderful blog article, very well said and so very true. Blessings on your writing!

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