And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." - MATTHEW 18:34-35
Heart forgiveness involves four stages. First, comes acknowledgement of the hurt. In Jesus’ parable, denial of the existence of the debt would have made forgiveness meaningless. Next is the acknowledgement of hatred. A grudge develops toward the individual who wounds us. Unless we confront the growing hatred in us for that person, forgiveness won’t come. We will hide behind the little verbal shield that says, “I love that person; I’m not angry!”
Healing comes through truthfulness, not a whitewash. “You hurt me and I hated you,” is the way the pendulum of forgiveness swings. It is based on the recognition that the wound inflicted on you was no worse than the grudge, or hate with which you thrust back.
But if it’s forgiveness from the heart, there will be a fourth element, an invitation to the restoration of relationship and where necessary restitution. This engages the heart and completes the stages of forgiveness. Are there situations in which you need to go all the way to heart forgiveness?
Ask God for the wisdom and strength to walk through all the stages of forgiveness.