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Called to Forgive

"Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you." ~ Ephesians 4:32

As Christians, followers of Yeshua, children of the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and Bible believers, we are called to forgive. There's no surprise in that statement.

But, I think a lot of us get into the weeds when we start to think about the how of the thing. Particularly when the offense or upset is great, we just don't know where to begin.

I recently had the privilege of hearing Dr. Everett Worthington give an interview. He is a psychologist, a professor, and a committed Christian. And, I believe he wouldn't mind a bit if I shared his approach with you.

Dr. Worthington was a student of forgiveness. He and his team had even written a book on the subject. And then, something horrible transpired that require him to put into practice the thoroughly researched methodology they had created. He found himself having to forgive someone that which one could be forgiven for having considered unforgivable. And, about a decade later, he had to find a way to forgive himself. The details are his stories to tell, and he does, but I'm delighted to share with you a glimpse of his how, when it comes to forgiveness.

By the way, he has workbooks on his website free of charge to go through the process more in depth, if you care to dig deep. But, in a nutshell, he recommends the following steps.

R. E. A. C. H. Forgiveness

  1. We Recall the hurt.

  2. We do the internal work to be able to Empathize with the offender.

  3. We choose to give forgiveness as an Altruistic gift, rather than out of some sense of obligation or self-interest.

  4. We Commit to forgive in some public way, it can be as simple as sharing with a trusted wise counselor or friend.

  5. We Hold tight to the forgiveness we choose, we persist in our journey of forgiveness.

Simple, though not necessarily easy. Those steps, taken in earnest, are a powerful access door to the realm of forgiveness. I'm honestly not sure I've ever encountered a more clear potential "how-to" guide to authentic forgiveness.

And, Dr. Worthington made an interesting distinction within the conversation. At first, when he said, something along the lines of "You don't necessarily need to forgive," my Christian hackles went right up! I'm thinking "Of course we do! The Bible tells us to forgive as we've been forgiven." And, on and on my brain went.

But, here's the thing...

If we can accept that perhaps what we perceived as a wrong wasn't a wrong in the mind of the person in question, then we have access to acceptance. We can accept that that's who they are, what they think, how they believe it's okay to act. (Within the bounds of reason, of course.) And, when we see it that way, there's not necessarily a wrong to forgive anymore. Dr. Worthington pointed out that the act of forgiveness requires an assumption of guilt. Removing guilt removes the need to forgive.

Very interesting food for thought, don't you think?

Thus a not so small gem through me to you. I hope you find it a more than worthy offering. May God bless you in the knowledge. Perhaps give it a shot, yes?

In my research for this post, I came across an interesting infographic from the Templeton Foundation that includes a visual of Dr. Worthington's approach to forgiveness. (I do not own the rights to this, I'm just passing it along.)

You are a gift! Thanks for being here.

Father God,

Thank You for THE gift of forgiveness given on Calvary.

Thank You for Your mercy and grace.

And, thank You for helping us to be skilled practitioners in the arts of forgiveness, mercy, and grace ourselves.

This we pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus, the Christ,


"He has not dealt with us according to our sins or repaid us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving devotion for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are dust." ~ Psalm 103:10-14

"And when you stand to pray, if you hold anything against another, forgive it, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your trespasses as well." ~ Mark 11:25

"Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all transgressions." ~ Proverbs 10:12

May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.

Bonus song of praise...

Sharables! ...and, hey, thanks for sharing.

********************* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture citations are sourced from The Holy Bible, " Study Bible, BSB

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