"Do Yourself a Favor...Forgive": An Interview with Joyce Meyer
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CBN.com - Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A bestselling author, she has written more than eighty inspirational books, released thousands of audio teachings, as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.
In her latest book, Do Yourself a Favor…Forgive, Joyce delves into the important process of forgiveness. CBN.com Internet Producer Beth Patch conducted an interview with her about this book:
Why is forgiveness so important?
So many people live with anger and unforgiveness, and many of them are Christians. At conferences, I have asked the crowd, “How many of you are mad at someone right now?” And it’s been amazing to me that each time, it looks like about 80-90% of the people raise their hand. So it’s a common problem that we need to confront.
I know from personal experience how damaging it can be to live with bitterness and unforgiveness. I like to say it’s like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. And it really is that harmful to us to live this way.
Why is forgiveness so difficult for us?
When an injustice happens, we want to be vindicated. A lot of times, people feel that if they forgive the person who hurt them, then they will continue to take advantage of them or not take responsibility for what they did wrong. And if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we usually want the person who hurt us to pay for what they did. We can’t get past this until we get the revelation that only God can pay us back. He is our Vindicator and will heal and restore us if we will trust Him and forgive our enemies as He has told us to do.
How do you know if you have truly forgiven someone?
Forgiveness is not a feeling—it’s a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God. It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process, depending on the severity of the offense.
The first step is the desire to do it, no matter how you feel toward the person who hurt you. Then you make the decision to do it, and it’s a “quality decision,” which means it’s a firm decision that won’t change when your feelings change. The next step is to depend on the Holy Spirit to help you do what you’ve decided to do. See, just deciding to forgive isn’t enough because willpower alone won’t work—we need divine strength from God. As He gives us the strength, we need to pray for our enemies and bless them. Praying for those who have hurt us is vital to successfully forgiving them.
What do you mean by hidden unforgiveness?
Years ago, I remember going to a church service and when the pastor said he was going to teach about our need to forgive people who had offended us, I thought something like, “I don’t need to hear this. I don’t have any unforgiveness in my heart.” But as the service went on, I realized I really was offended and upset with two people in my life at that time. God helped me to see that I was not being honest with myself about this sin in my heart and I needed to confront it.
We often think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, and it’s easy to judge others and be critical of their weaknesses and shortcomings. But this self-righteous attitude is a sin that we can be blinded to because we’re so focused on what the other person did wrong. The reality is this attitude is worse than the wrong behavior we’re judging.
We have all heard to forgive and forget. What do you say about that?
There are some hurts that we experience that can be forgiven but we won’t forget them. I have forgiven my father for the years of sexual, emotional and verbal abuse that he put me through, but I haven’t forgotten everything he did to me. Because I have forgiven him, I can share my testimony to help other people find the healing and restoration they need.
If you’re holding on to an offense, then you haven’t forgiven the person who hurt you. Unforgiveness finds excuses to talk about what people have done to us, and we’ll tell anyone who will listen. There’s a difference between sharing your testimony to help someone and talking about what’s been done to you because you are angry about it.
Can you forgive so much that you become a doormat?
God isn’t asking us to be doormats for people to walk all over. There are going to be times when He leads you to confront someone about their bad behavior. Forgiving others has to do with your heart attitude toward them and how you treat them. Jesus never mistreated anyone just because they mistreated Him. He confronted them in a spirit of gentleness and then continued to love them.
The Bible tells us not to return evil for evil or insult for insult in . says we overcome evil with good. When we forgive our enemies, we are more concerned about what they are doing to themselves than what they are doing to us.
What can people do to stop negative emotions from popping up when thinking about the person or incident they have forgiven?
Continue to pray for the person or situation that caused your pain and anger. Ask God to give you understanding about why they did what they did. When my dad finally told me he was sorry for all of the abuse he had done to me throughout my childhood, he said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he didn’t think it was hurting me as much as it had. I believe him. And I firmly believe that usually, the person who hurt you doesn’t realize what they’ve done or how much it hurt you.
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