F is for FORGIVE not for FORGET
I once heard an African preacher wisely say "If you can forgive and forget then really not much has happened to you." I agree. Why would we forget something that has irrevocably changed us. It becomes a turning point by which our lives revolve, we can't forget it. No where in the Bible does God call on us to forget the wrongs suffered, the key is probably not our forgetting but how we remember these wrongs. Do we remember them through the lens of forgiveness or the lens of hatred?
O is for OTHERS
This is a bit obvious or is it? We forgive others, those friends, family, strangers who have done us wrong. It is easy to recognise when someone we dislike has wronged us but if it is someone close to us we can be blinded by our love and make every excuse under the sun for that person. If someone is habitually doing wrong to you or someone you know then they need to be told, it needs to be brought into the light and not hidden. If not the person doing the wrong becomes a tyrant and the person who is hurt becomes a victim. (Luke 17: 3,4) A wrong is a wrong is a wrong no matter who is responsible.
R is for REPENT
Repent this is where the rubber hits the road to use a popular phrase. To repent is to accept you have committed a wrong in " heart, word or deed", to be sorry for that wrong, to then turn from that wrong and where possible make restitution for that wrong. I do believe that Jesus teaches us to forgive, everyone, take the Lords prayer for instance(Matt 6:12-15).
There are 2 issues that arise from this 1. Often the person who has wronged you, couldn't care less, refuses to admit they are to blame or even worse twists the whole thing around and blames you. They are in no way repentant. Do I still have to forgive them? Yes, the Bible says "yes". Does that feel harsh? Yes, it does. 2. The wrongs and sins perpetrated by others can be devastatingly evil and damaging. Does the Bible say forgive? Yes. Does that seem harsh? Yes, terribly and even inhumanely harsh.
G is for GOD the CHRIST
There is a cultural expression that is true, "to err is human but to forgive is divine." Without Christ I know I could not and would not forgive others. But with Christ I can. For Jesus Christ willingly died an excruciatingly painful and totally unfair death on the cross and by His perfect life he not only turned the anger of God away from me but He absorbed the punishment for all my wrongs the ultimate punishment being eternal death. He then rises because death can't ever hold Jesus down and turns to me and you and offers "I(Jesus) am willing to forgive you, everything, should you repent and accept this forgiveness" (Colossians 1:13,14). For me and many others we said and continue to say "yes, please forgive us", (Romans 10:9)."
But here am I now faced with forgiving someone who has really tried to wreck my life. Its like sitting at your own kitchen table, in pajamas and your bare feet touching the cold floor. Across from you sits the one or ones who have unspeakably damaged you and your life. You don't want to look at them but you cannot avoid staring at them because their evil deeds have become strong thick ropes that no human can break that bind you and that person to that kitchen table, as it spins on a pivot suspended in time. But as believers there is also Someone else standing beside you, his hand is upon your shoulder. It's Jesus. You turn to Him and say "Lord Jesus I can't forgive this person but I choose Your way please could you enable me to forgive them?"
You feel terribly deflated as you wait for Jesus to release the ropes of the wrongdoer and watch him walk away free. But to your relief and joy Jesus releases your bonds and the burden of holding a grudge, lightens, your vengeful and hateful thoughts, dim. Jesus stands you up and says "Go into the sunshine and the garden enjoy your life free from your own hatred and the evil that has been done against you, for I have enabled you to forgive."
You rise from the table and run to the door, Jesus has done what you couldn't do. You can't help but take a look back, you are waiting for Jesus to release the bonds of the other one, but He does not He sits at the table now where you once sat across from the one who has hurt you. The ropes lie limp they can't touch Jesus but the other person is still bound and caught in his own evil unable to escape because he will not repent, he refuses forgiveness and unless he accepts Christ he is tied to that situation spinning in space, condemned. (Matt 21:33-44).
I is for INNER
To forgive is firstly an inner transaction of the will and heart between you and God. The Apostle Stephen when he was being stoned expresses forgiveness beautifully when he cries out to God "do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60). It may not be necessary to tell someone you have forgiven them or perhaps it is. Ask God to make you wise unto the circumstances of which is best. God will cause your outer life to show that you have inwardly forgiven.
V is for VICTORY
The victory of forgiveness is assured and has eternal consequences. Evil has not won but forgiveness has through Christ (Romans 12:21). Remember feelings can't always be trusted and it takes time. Sometimes we rush into the kitchen and we allow our hatred and hurt to well up in our lives. But Jesus who is still there looks at us with compassion and says "It's okay because I'm taking care of this on your behalf. You don't belong in here now, go into the garden and live free from the pain and the hatred." For it is up to God to avenge not for us. (Romans 12:19-20).
E is for EASTER
Because that is when the Son of God showed us the ultimate in forgiveness. Let us this Easter accept His forgiveness and forgive others through his strength. (Matt 26:28).
FORGIVE OTHERS and REPENT through GOD have INNER VICTORY this EASTER
N.B. I have attempted to describe the inner consequences of forgiving others. If people find themselves in a situation where crimes have been committed then they must report it to the appropriate authorities. If it is dangerous emotionally, physically, spiritually to remain in communication with someone who has hurt you then you must make sure there are appropriate boundaries.