Here is the help you need in three easy steps.
In a world where a spirit of offense seems to have taken over, everyone argues about EVERYTHING. Whether disagreements with co-workers, family, or church splits, or political and theological debates on facebook, tensions often run high and things are said that should not have been. Maybe it is something more serious, like an unfaithful spouse, a business deal gone sour, or the betrayal of a friend. It is imperative to your witness and to your own peace of mind that you forgive quickly. When you come to the Lord you repent and ask forgiveness for your sins. You are to extend this same forgiveness to others. This article will help you do just that by practicing obedience to God's word, employing the Gifts of the Spirit, and doing spiritual warfare.
Matthew 6:12 says "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." When you pass from this world do you want your own sins hanging over your head? No? Then you must forgive others. Not only will this make your present life so much better, but it has eternal consequences as well. Though it may not seem easy, it is mandatory. He has taught me some things to make it easier. For most of us, it is not within us to be able to do this ourselves, but if you follow His commands you will see how He does it FOR you. You just have to follow three easy steps He outlines for us in Scripture. YOU do the natural and HE will do the supernatural.
Before you even start the process, search your heart and mind and ask the Lord to reveal anything you may have done or said that instigated or contributed to the situation. Isaiah 59:2 says you need to be free from sin for Him to regard your prayers. Psalm 19:2 says, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." Sometimes you don't see our own sin. Ask the Lord to reveal what He sees that you may have done wrong, then ask forgiveness for yourself.
Forgiveness is something you do with your mouth out of obedience even if your heart does not does not line up with what you are saying. (Hang in there, because eventually, it will.) This is a matter of obedience WHETHER YOUR FEELINGS AGREE OR NOT. Just DO it. God will bless you for doing so. Because the enemy cannot read your thoughts you need to state out loud that you forgive so-and-so for such-and-such. This informs the powers of darkness that you choose to forgive as an act of your will; therefore, you are walking in obedience and it removes their legal right to harass you.
You will be harassed in the spirit realm if you do not forgive. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 illustrates this principle. It says that a man to whom mercy had been shown was not being merciful to another and because of that, was to be delivered to his tormentors. This is an illustration of what the demonic realm is allowed to do to you if you do not forgive. We often replay fights in our heads, thinking "I should have said this or that" and rehearse what we will say the next time we have a chance to engage those who have hurt us. These thoughts are often repetitive and even obsessive; they bring no peace so they are TORMENTING. They do not just originate from our own thoughts but are placed in our heads by the enemy. By not forgiving the enemy has a legal right to torment you, just like the man in the story. You must take action if you want those thoughts to stop.
A warning though - just because you have removed a legal right does not mean that they won't try to sneak in an illegal attack now and then. (Since when does the devil follow the rules?) Even when you are obedient to the word by endeavoring to "cast down vain imaginations" and "take every thought captive" (II Corinthians 10:5) by trying to change the subject in your mind the enemy may put those thoughts back in to keep you upset and steal your joy. This is not God's will for your life. It is not "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17) It is anger, frustration, and revenge in the enemy's camp.
To stop these attacks say out loud AGAIN, "I forgave John Doe and I command all tormenting spirits attacking me right now to leave and go where the Lord sends you, in Jesus' name." You have that authority if you are a born-again believer in Jesus (Luke 10:19). These attacks will occur less and less frequently if you are diligent in doing this.
This next step will help your emotions get in line with your obedient spirit. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). You may think, "Yeah, right. I'll pray for them to drop dead." This is natural, but as Christians we live in the supernatural. That means, with the Lord's help, we will go above and beyond those human tendencies.
I have found when you seriously pray for the Lord to bless your offenders, HIS SUPERNATURAL LOVE FOR THEM WILL ENTER YOUR HEART AND PUSH THE ANGER AND PAIN OUT. Again, when you obey His commandments, He will see to it that your heart/emotions change supernaturally. You may be shown by Him why they act the way they do. Remember, "Hurt people, hurt people." There is a reason behind their behavior. When you start to understand why they act the way they do, you will pity them and want to pray for them even more. Do as the Apostle Paul would do, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding" (I Corinthians 14:15a). We often don't know how or what to pray, but God does, so use that ability and use it often. It is one of our weapons of warfare, according to Ephesians 6:18. Yet, many neglect this powerful tool.
None of us is omniscient so others often don't understand where you are coming from. They may not take the time to think how their words/actions are going to affect you or, maybe their hearts are so hardened, they just don't care. Remember what Jesus said as He was hanging on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) Usually there are misunderstandings - words and actions based on lack of knowledge or incorrect information. In Jesus' example, I believe He knew that the people mocking and crucifying Him did not know Who He was, for if they did, they would have been on their knees before Him instead of doing what they were doing. They were acting on lack of knowledge and He knew that. If a person knows full well what they are doing, that is different, but most of the time, they don't. Or, as discussed above, they are so damaged emotionally themselves they are unable to make appropriate decisions, viewing the world through muddy glasses. This is where the supernatural Gift of the Spirit of the Word of Knowledge can come in as the Lord graciously gives you insight into the situation. When He does this it is easier to extend grace when you realize most people really don't know what they are doing or are so wounded they are unable to interact properly with the rest of humanity.
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin." (I Peter 4:8) Ask God to fill you with more of Himself, because God IS love and to give you love for that person. When you are full of Him you are more patient with others and it is easier to be kind. Combined with your newly acquired understanding of their pain and more of God's love in your heart, the attacks will pretty much just roll off your back and you will become impervious to them. When the attacker sees how your response has changed it is likely they will stop the attacks.
Some unbelievers just want to see if they can provoke you to see what you are made of and if your "religion" is real. Therefore, it is critical that you learn to respond in love. They may even want to know why you are acting the way you are (or NOT acting the way you used to) which will open a door to share the gospel. As Christians we should be shock absorbers for those who don't know Him yet, instead of pulling out the fiery darts and slinging them back. It takes practice, but you can become almost "unoffendable." Your love and desire for them to come into the Kingdom should far outweigh your "right" to be offended. In essence, get over yourself, for the Glory of God.
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ON FORGIVING
Do you tell the person you forgive him/her? ONLY if the Lord leads you. I and others have experienced expressing forgiveness to the person who then denied they ever did/said such a thing and then were accused of being insane, a liar, or just imagining things. This can create another wound in your heart and rift in the relationship. Let this transaction be between you and the Lord and don't even expect an apology, then you won't be disappointed. If the person is no longer living, forgive anyway. The Lord may still give you insight into why the person treated you that way and that knowledge in itself can bring healing and ease the pain.
If the Lord leads you to speak directly with this person, be sure to be "prayed up." You should cover the conversation with the blood of Jesus and bind any spirits that might try to interfere in the conversation. Bind the Leviathan spirit which tries to twist peoples' words so that the other person hears something different than what was actually said. Bind spirits of anger, rage, pride, and lying spirits. Ask the Lord to help you say clearly what you need to say and that you would hear the other person clearly as well. Pray for the Gift of Discernment to be operating in you. Pray for favor with the other person too.
If the Lord previously showed you where YOU went wrong in this situation, you will need to ask the other party's forgiveness for that. This alone may break the ice and lead the other person to ask forgiveness too.
Sometimes it helps to have a neutral party present to help smooth things over and negotiate. Other times, it is best to deal with the person alone or maybe with a spouse. In the case of dealing with someone of the opposite sex, ALWAYS have another person with you. This helps avoid the very appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22).
How many times do we need to forgive? In Matthew 18:22 Jesus said 70 X 7 times. That's a lot. But what if you don't? How many times has He forgiven you? Turning the other cheek and going the extra mile do NOT mean you should set yourself up to be hurt over and over. It DOES mean that you do NOT retaliate. Romans 12:19 says, "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord." God will deal with them in His time. It is not your place, so leave it to Him. Better yet, how about YOU go the extra mile and ask, like Stephen did in Acts 7:60, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
How soon do you need to forgive? My advice is IMMEDIATELY. Even if you have to discreetly whisper in your cubicle or sneak off the restroom for a minute, etc. Do it as soon as possible, preferably not within the offender's hearing. Do not hang onto offenses overnight because your soul can continue to be damaged with sleeplessness or nightmares. We are taught "Do not let the sun go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26). The longer you let an offense stay in your heart the more likely you are to have a "root of bitterness" (Hebrews 12:15b) grow.
Bitterness will permeate your soul and, if allowed to stay, will ruin other relationships as well as you go through life with a "chip on your shoulder." As the above Scripture says it "will cause trouble and many become defiled by it..." Surely you have met people like that. Everything makes them angry and you have to walk on eggshells around them. That is where drug and alcohol abuse begin as people try to deaden the constant pain. It will destroy you and often others around you.
Should you trust that person in the future? Only if they come to you with true repentance in their heart. God would not want you to be foolish. Wisdom dictates caution. Though not Scripture, there is a saying, "Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice - shame on me." The Lord expects us to learn from our experiences. He does want you to have self-respect ("You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 19:19) and not allow yourself to be a doormat or be taken advantage of repeatedly. You are too valuable for that. Every situation is different and you must pray for His guidance and discernment concerning future interactions with that person.
Will you forget about the offense? Probably not. But by not replaying it over and over in your head (and stopping the tormentors from doing that as well) the memory will become fainter and fainter. Memory is stored chemically in the brain and each time you relive it, it is like shoveling a deeper and deeper path in the snow. But stop repeating it - take every thought captive - and new snow will eventually cover over that path.
God forgets our sins and doesn't bring them up to us again (Isaiah 43:25), so neither should you bring them up again with the offender, if you want to be like Him. Put the offense under the blood and leave it there. Even if they hate you, that is not YOUR concern. Not everyone in this life is going to see your value. You are commanded to love them, no matter what they have done or what they think about you. (Mark 20:31) Cherish the ones who do love you but continue to pray for those who don't. Do what is right Scripturaly and walk in love. Eventually, according to Proverbs 16:7, God will cause even your enemies to live in peace with you.