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When Someone Does You Wrong
Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

Every day people walk into my office with an armload of hurts. Someone has done them wrong. So how can they move on and release the pain? The key is forgiveness.

We live in a world where we all miss the mark of perfection. Problems and difficulties arise when we bump into each other's imperfections. But before we confront an issue where somebody has wronged us, we need to examine our own heart and see where we've missed the mark. If we have sinned, we need to take it to the cross and accept God's forgiveness. It is Christ's work on the cross that paid the price for our forgiveness. By faith, when we ask for forgiveness, we are just appropriating that forgiveness. In actuality, He has forgiven us even before we ask for it. Two thousand years ago, our debt was cancelled—paid in full—all because of Christ's sacrifice.

When we look at our own heart first, we can be sure we're not trying to correct another's behavior just so we'll feel better about what we've done. It's then that we can take their sin (where they have missed the mark) to Christ. When we give their sin to Christ, we are claiming that their sin is paid in full to us.

Recently, I've had to do this very thing. A few years ago, I loaned someone a substantial amount of money. We had an agreement, but to this day he has not paid me back. A literal debt is still owed. After many attempts to contact him, my hurt and anger grew. So I took all this to the Lord.

In this instance, I had to forgive myself where I had fallen short and accept God's forgiveness. (I realized that I had violated a biblical principle of loaning money. Instead of loaning him the money, I should have decided what amount I could give—not as a loan but as a gift.) Next I listed where this person had fallen short toward me by ignoring me and not attempting to repay his loan. Then I had to forgive him. All of this is a must before I face him on this issue.

Often we find it difficult to forgive because we think when we do we are letting that person off the hook. So the thinking is if we hang on to our hurt, we're going to punish them. That's the deception because we are only punishing ourselves. We continue to be the victim. But the whole picture turns around when we apply God's forgiveness to ourselves and then to the one who has wronged us. Christ's finished work on the cross broke the power of our sin and the sin of others over us.

Now when I approach this man regarding the loan, I am going with the right motivation and understanding of the issue. I will be able to talk to him without anger and speak to him truthfully: "This is money God entrusted to me. As its steward, I'm responsible for it. That's why I'm talking with you now. If you refuse to pay it back to me, then you'll have to give an account to God for what you do with it. You'll be responsible to Him."

Forgiving Yourself

Forgiveness is canceling a debt that somebody owes. And sometimes that somebody is you. Many times when someone is the betrayer or offender, they feel they have to make up for what they've done wrong, even after they have sought forgiveness from God and the one they offended. There is no way any of us can make up for what we've done wrong. In reality we need to forgive ourselves, canceling our own debt we feel that we owe.

Can't Turn Back Time

None of us has the luxury of turning back the clock. There are no "do overs."

So how do you go on from here? To sum it up: Focus on what you have control of through Christ and let go of what you don't have control over. Determine to live through the righteousness of Christ instead of trying to correct the unrighteousness in your past (you can't do it anyway). Begin to see yourself as God sees you: as if you always had it right. Believe it. It's true.

Forgiveness is freedom. Whether we are seeking forgiveness from God for our own sin or in forgiving someone for his or her trespass against us, in every offense we have a choice. We can hang on to the hurt, refusing to forgive, opening the door to bitterness or resentment or revenge. Or we can forgive and experience a powerful freedom.

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