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(by Alexander Thomas)

Unless your marriage is still in its earliest stages, you are sure to have some painful memories. One of the best ways to deal with these hurtful times with one another, or with others, is to forgive.

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Col. 3:13). Forgiving others is not a suggestion, it's a command. The amazing miracle of forgiving others is that it stops our pain. When we release our offenses, they quit hurting us.

What Bible tells about forgiveness
We must forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15)
God forgives our many sins (Psalm 65:3)
God forgives us because he loves us (Psalm 86:5)
God makes us as clean as freshly fallen snow (Isaiah 1:18)
God removes our impurities (Ezekiel 36:25)
Don’t keep track of how many times you forgive (Matthew 18:21-35)
Freely forgive others as God has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13)
God will forgive our sins if we confess them (1 John 1:8-9)
Mercy asked, promise given (Matthew 18:26)
God will not forgive unless man forgives his brother (Matthew 18:35; Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26; Ephes. 4:32)

Forgiveness comes from the heart, from a new nature wrought in Christ. The person who does not forgive others does not know the forgiveness of God.

Some people misunderstand forgiveness.
They believe it is essential to feel good first about the person who hurt them. Not true. Forgiveness works best when we get in touch with how bad we feel, or imagine how good we will feel after we've forgiven. Forgiving others does not mean we acting like their wrong was okay. We refuse to excuse sin or justify the sinner. Both judgment and salvation are God's business.

"Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord'" (Romans 12:19).

If you want to forgive you look to the Cross to grasp how the Lord Jesus forgave you.

Pray right now. Ask the Lord Jesus to bring to your mind the name or the faces of every person you need to forgive. The Holy Spirit is faithful to bring names to our minds, sometimes people we have forgotten for years. The most common names to surface are Mother or Father. Write the names down on a list. Then, one by one, pray this simple forgiveness prayer: Lord, I forgive (name) for all offenses and painful memories.
If the experience was traumatic, such as childhood abuse or adultery in the marriage, you may find forgiveness extremely difficult. In such cases it helps to pray through the following steps, one at a time. Personalize each step by inserting the person's name, or recalling the incident. The following steps are helpful in understanding the forgiveness process.

Steps to Forgiveness
Submit yourself to God, recalling how Christ forgave you (see Luke 23:33, 34; Col. 3:13). Ask for Christ's grace and power to forgive (Luke 11:9, 10). Sometimes our emotions cry, "I can't forgive! True, but Jesus understands. When we are willing, God always gives us the grace to obey His commands.

Release the guilt.
Tear up the debt the other person owes you (Matthew 6:12). When we pray the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," we are not speaking of finances. Tear up the personal, moral and relational debt you feel the other person owes you. This is the beauty of forgiveness.

Once you free never bring it up again (Romans 12:17).
In marriage this means, once you forgive, you can never use the information as a weapon during a fight. You never use the information against your spouse. The subject can be discussed to bring resolution or progress. If the believer returns good for evil, he opens the door for eventual friendship and bears testimony to the love of God for all men, even for those who do evil.

Replace the old resentful feelings with the forgiving love of Christ
(Matthew 12:43-45; Ephes. 4:31, 32). A spiritual vacuum is dangerous. Anything not controlled by the Holy Spirit will soon attract evil spirits (Matthew 12:43-45).

You do not have to feel good about the person who hurt you—either before or after you forgive.
Forgiveness is an issue between you and God. It does not put a stamp of approval on another's behavior. It does not automatically rebuild trust. It does not make you like someone who has hurt you. It simply releases the offense and lets you focus on the problem, not the problem-producer.

The need to forgive is between you and God; the need to ask for forgiveness is between you and another person (Matthew 5:23-26; Matthew 18:15-17). If the issue is a need for reconciliation between two estranged people, both of whom are aware of the tension, then go make peace. But if the other person is not aware of it, or it's no big deal to that person, then keep your personal forgiveness between you and God. Every Christian should follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

You don't have to wait until you are ready to forgive.
You can obey God's Word right now. You submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). Tell him in Jesus' name, Out of here, you speak out loud or let your lips move. Then you simply pray the simple forgiveness prayer once again. "Lord, I forgive (name) in Jesus Name Amen". Guess what? Soon your emotions will be healed and forgiveness will become a way of life. God will not forgive unless man forgives his brother (Matthew 18:35; Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26; Ephes. 4:32

So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." Matthew 18:35

An unforgiving person shall be judged. The point is clear and critical. It is critical because it determines our eternal destiny. We must not only forgive, we must live a life of forgiveness and mercy. We must develop a nature of forgiveness and compassion and mercy and love toward others. If we do not forgive from our hearts, neither will God forgive us. Forgiveness comes from the heart, from a new nature wrought in Christ.

The person who does not forgive others does not know the forgiveness of God.

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