A Closer Look at the 3-Step Process of Biblical Forgiveness

Once you understand what forgiveness is not, forgiving becomes easier. But how exactly do you go about it? You can begin by working through the three-step process of biblical forgiveness:

  1. Remember How Much You Have Been Forgiven
  2. Release the Person Who Hurt You
  3. Reestablish the Relationship, as Much as Possible

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three steps in this process.

Remember How Much You Have Been Forgiven

If you are struggling to forgive someone who hurt you, pause and remember just how much God has forgiven you. Think about the magnitude of God’s grace in your own life. Think about Jesus and the cross. Think about the gift of forgiveness he offers to every person walking the earth, no matter what they have done, no matter how undeserving.

Grasping the extent of God’s grace in your own life is the only thing that will give you the ability to show astonishing grace to others. Bitterness is a natural response when you have been wounded; forgiveness is supernatural. God alone gives you the power to forgive the seemingly unforgivable as you recognize the work he has done in your life and in the lives of those you love.

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Release the Person Who Hurt You

Releasing someone who hurt you means letting that person out of the prison you have constructed for them in your mind. It means making a decision to stop dwelling on how they did you wrong and intentionally letting go of any bitterness that has worked its way into your heart. To get there, hand the situation and all the emotions associated with it over to God. Trust him to deal with it in the proper way. After all, he is much better equipped to handle these things. Once you choose to release your offender, you will experience a huge sense of peace and comfort.

This step is not easy. Holding on to the hurt can make you feel as if you are paying the person who offended you back for what they did. But you aren’t. Harboring anger and bitterness doesn’t do anything except allow the situation to continue holding you hostage, wreaking havoc on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While you may not feel like releasing the person who caused you pain, understand that this step is a proactive choice rather than the result of a feeling –and it is a choice necessary for your own healing and future well-being.

Reestablish the Relationship, as Much as Possible

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. Forgiveness is a requirement for moving past pain in a healthy way, but reconciliation has to be considered on a case-by-case basis. As Paul wrote, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).

You can do your part by remembering how much you have been forgiven, releasing the other person, and doing what you can to prayerfully reestablish the relationship. But keep in mind that some relationships can’t or shouldn’t be reestablished. For example, don’t reconnect in a relationship that may cause you additional personal harm or expose you to any kind of emotional or physical danger. Be wise. Forgiveness doesn’t require putting yourself back in a questionable situation.

If you are going to avoid bitterness and all its negative effects, you are going to have to become a good forgiver. You will have to repeat the process many times as you move through life. So one of the greatest things you can do for your health and well-being is to make being quick to forgive a habit –a reflex, even. Practice generous forgiveness every chance you get. Consider this passage:

“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied. ‘but seventy times seven!'” (Matt. 18:21-22).

– Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson

The above excerpt is from p. 144-146 of The New You: A Guide to Better Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Wellness.

With your copy of The New You, you will come away with specific strategies on how to lose weight, get more sleep, lower stress, nurture better relationships, connect with God and much more! Anyone who wants to trade in the frustration of average living and less-than health for the hallmarks of the new life God promises will find The New You an effective personal guide for the journey.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyLeadership, Ministry