(Psalm 103:12 NIV) “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Putting offenses behind our backs (Isa. 38:17)
(Isa 38:17 NIV) “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”
Blotting out what was done (Isa. 43:25; Psalm 51:1, 9)
(Isa 43:25 NIV) “”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
(Psa 51:1 NIV) ” Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”
(Psa 51:9 NIV) “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.”
Casting the offense in the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:19)
(Micah 7:19 NIV) “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
It means releasing the resentment, hatred, bitterness, ill-will & desire for revenge. It means you don’t hold a grudge, or cherish bitterness or harbor any desire to harm them. It means dropping the case we have against them.
Does have to be from the heart (Mat 18:35 NIV) “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””). Can’t just say the words. This is difficult to determine sometimes because we can’t necessarily keep ourselves from having primary feelings like anger. But we can make choices, including the choice to let go of the things that anger often leads to, like resentment, hatred, bitterness, & ill will.
It also means we stop trying to make them pay (we cancelled the debt so we can’t demand any more payments). We stop exacting psychological payment. If we forgive, we don’t bring it up anymore—to that person or anyone else, & we stop trying to make them pay. Both are wrong!
Does mean we stop dwelling on what was done to us. We may not be able to forget what happened and our mind may go there once in a while, but forgiveness does mean we don’t dwell on it anymore. It is taking the arrows out of our gut instead of continuing to twist them around inside of us. Whereas before we may have nurtured that hurt to keep it active & alive. But now we refused to do that. That may take some prayer to keep releasing it to God, but we don’t let our mind stay there.
Does mean treat them with love, even if we don’t feel it. Feelings are important, but they are not what we base our decisions on. We forgive because it is the right and healthy thing to do, and then we treat the person with love. When God forgives us, he doesn’t wait to see how it’s going to go before he starts to bless us again.
It does mean we are opening a door for reconciliation. That’s one of the purposes. God’s people are supposed to be reconciled to each other. We can’t say ok I forgive you but I never want to see you again. Doesn’t mean you have to be the best of friends, but it does mean you tear down the walls. And remember, reconciliation takes two people—they have to be open to it as well.
Does mean we’ll have to take responsibility for our own happiness & we’ll have to change. As long as we’re resentful we give ourselves an excuse not to do the hard work of looking at ourselves and changing our own lives. Perhaps that’s another reason why God tells us to forgive.