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How to Tell If You’ve Forgiven or Not

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Forgiveness takes courage and we must be willing to ask for help from the Holy Spirit. It is foolhardy to think we can accomplish this impossible task under our own power.

How do we keep moving forward so that our anger doesn’t stagnate, left to take root and sprout into bitterness? We must recognize when we haven’t yet forgiven.

One of the ways we can know that we haven’t forgiven is when we find ourselves reviewing the wrong over and over, beyond what is necessary for healing. Rehashing the events in your mind is the perfect fertilizer for bitterness.

Also, sharing the wrong with others for any purpose beyond getting help for healing simply reignites the flame of bitterness and brings down the person who wronged you in the eyes of others.

When we are unable to genuinely want the best for the person who wronged us, we need to check where we are in the process of forgiveness. For when we have forgiven, we don’t want harm to come to them. We want God’s best for them. Even if the situation requires justice in a court of law, we can desire the ultimate best for them: salvation through Jesus.

Another telltale sign our forgiveness is not complete is if we are unwilling to pray blessing over them. As it says in 1 Peter:

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing, For, “Whoever would live life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” (NIV)

When we are growing in our forgiveness, we are willing to pray a blessing, even if at first it is through clenched teeth. But you do it in obedience. Can you imagine praying a blessing upon the person who wounded you? Sound impossible? Not with God. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help and just do it every time the person comes to mind.

Excerpted from Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself by Ruth Graham (2019), used by permission of Baker Books.

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About The Author


Ruth Graham is a mother of three, grandmother to nine wonderful children from 17 years to 3 years. She is the president and founder of Ruth Graham Ministries. The middle child born to Evangelist Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, Ruth says that being their child is part of what she is but not who she is. She has had her own faith journey that has been messy. She has known heartache, depression, betrayal, rejection, stubborn willfulness, anxiety and fear. Through it all, she has seen the faithfulness and grace of God. Her life verse is , "Of His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace." (NAS)