The general atmosphere here in Israel during the Autumn “high holiday” biblical feast season is one of repentance. Many people (even atheists) ask each other for forgiveness, at least on a superficial level, leading up to the Day of Atonement.
In Matthew 18:15-22 we read Yeshua’s teaching on forgiveness. “…if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother…” (NKJV). This is not forgiveness between man and God but between man and man. Here the person who has been hurt must go to the one who caused the damage.
What is the damage caused through hurt and unresolved issues? Anger, bitterness, resentment, and even physical pain and sickness are a few of the results we may experience when we’ve been hurt.
What are the stages we go through from the point of being hurt to the point of having the ability to go to our brother as Yeshua teaches?
First, someone hurts us.
Then, we must recognize how we are reacting to that hurt. What are the emotions we are experiencing? What are we thinking? If we approach the offending person while in this initial state of turmoil, it will likely only cause more trouble.
Once we are aware of our own condition, we must seek help from the Lord through prayer. What is the help we need in this situation? Part of it is certainly to forgive them. However, we need to also look at our motivation. Is it coming from a place of unhealthy fear? Or, are we looking to “prove” ourselves superior to, or more spiritual than, the other person? Neither of these are good motivations and can be an indication of the condition of our own heart.
After we have gone through the above stages, then the desire to forgive the person who hurt us can come from a place of humility, as we remember that Yeshua while on the cross asked the Father, “Father forgive them…” Who were the ones whom He asked the Father to forgive? His executioners! Why did He ask the Father to forgive them? “…for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Another tool we can use in working through our hurts is putting ourselves in the other person’s place. What would I want them to do if I had hurt them? This is also a good time to consider those we have hurt and think about what we have or have not done to make amends.
Only now comes the right time in this process to go to our brother. This is not truly possible without Yeshua and the covering of His love. Our hope is that God will cover the nation of Israel and all nations, with Yeshua’s love; and that they will see Him – the one who is the atonement for our sins.