A biblical doctrine of forgiveness begins with the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Exodus 20:13. Sounds harsh doesn't it? Embracing solid doctrine can be harsh. It often separates me from the world. Sometimes it separates me from my peers or family. Even more important though, it changes my life, and it brings me closer to the One who loves me beyond my wildest imagination.
"Thou shalt not kill" means of course we are not to murder. We are also not to entertain any of the thoughts that partner up with murderous thoughts. Things such as: "She makes me so angry!" "I was happy until she showed up!" "I hate her!" etc. Though we might say something like that, most of us would never think they were murderous thoughts would we? They are. Given enough time and sin these thoughts would brew into a poisonous concoction of hate, evil, and murder.
The good news is that we don't have to give in! Thank-you Lord for your Holy Spirit who tells me how to think about others who've wronged me or even wronged my loved ones. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourself. So, what does that look like?
I think one particularly helpful thing for me to focus on is to see the offender as made in the image of God. I can love her/him for the precious creation they are. Obviously, a believer bears the holiness of God imparted to them at salvation. But, even the unbeliever bears something of the image of God. The God of all creation designed her, created her, and has a purpose for her life. I can respect that in the offender and love her.
Lastly, I have a hard time believing someone else couldn't forgive me don't I? I mean I respect myself, don't harbor grudges against myself, love myself, and desire God's best for myself. I seek to see the image of God in myself. Therefore, I can do the same for others. I choose to respect them, not harbor grudges, love them, and desire God's best for them.
What freedom! Thank-you Lord!