Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 10 September 2007; Revised 18 April 2015
Having a pure heart is an important goal for every disciple of Yeshua (Jesus) (Ps 24:4; Matt 5:8; Heb 12:14). Negative feelings and attitudes, such as anger, hatred, bitterness and resentment, pollute the heart and life. The following steps give you constructive biblical principles for removing these negative feelings and replacing them with forgiveness. It may take several days, weeks or months. Make a commitment to work at least ten minutes each day on this project until completed.
Step One: Set aside some time every day with the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate verses that you need to focus on. If you're not sure where to begin, read the book of John, 1 Peter and 1 John. Read all the passages cited in this resource. As you read, ask yourself, "What does the Word say about love, hate, anger, suffering and forgiveness?" (Psalm 1; 119:15-16)
Step Two: Admit to yourself and to God that anger and resentment is sin. Moreover, you have broken the sundown rule by carrying your anger longer than a day. Admit that you must forgive those who hurt you or your heavenly Father will not forgive you. Recognize that lack of forgiveness affects your peace with God and your peace of mind. (Leviticus 19:18; Psalm 28:3; Proverbs 14:21; Matthew 5:22; 6:14-15; Mark; 11:25; Ephesians 4:26-32; James 2:13; 1 John 2:9, 11; 3:10, 15; 4:20-21)
Step Three: Make a conscious decision to do the Lord's will and receive God's help. Tell the Lord that you are willing to get rid of your anger and resentment. Ask Yeshua to work in your heart to help you overcome any unwillingness and enable you to forgive. Affirm that you believe that Yeshua can do this. (Mark 9:24; John 13:3; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 4:31; Philippians 3:21)
Step Four: Remember the situation that hurt you. Write down a list of actions of the offender that hurt you. Do not list how you think the offender felt toward you. What is your evidence that the behaviors occurred? Work on one person at a time. Start with the longest-held resentments. (Deuteronomy 17:6; Psalm 35; 109)
Step Five: Consider this question, "Why am I angry or resentful about these offenses?" To answer this question, determine what expectations you may have had of the offender that were not fulfilled or that were violated. Be specific. What made your expectations reasonable? realistic? biblical? Were the actions of the offender truly sinful, contrary to community standards or your family values or merely contrary to your desires? (Genesis 4:2-6; Job 30:26; Psalm 4:4; Jonah 4:3-11)
Step Six: Consider the underlying interests or needs that may have influenced your expectations of the offender, such as feelings that you deserve to be loved, respected, secure or treated fairly. What interest or need did the offender violate? What is the origin of these needs? (Matthew 20:1-16; 1 Corinthians 9:4-6; James 3:13 - 4:3)
Step Seven: Write a prayer to God in the form of a letter. Tell God about the offender's bad behavior, your expectations and needs. Explain why the offender is wrong and what you believe would be a just solution. Be specific in all elements of the letter. (Psalm 55; Luke 18:1-8; Philippians 4:6)
Step Eight: Seek to understand the offender. Ask yourself, "What feelings and motives have I attributed to the offender? Why would he or she hurt me? Did he or she deliberately hurt me? How do I know? What other feelings or motives could the offender have had? If I had been in his or her shoes, would I have acted differently?" (Psalm 103:14; Matthew 7:1-5; 1 Corinthians 2:11)
Step Nine: Write down every sin you can remember committing in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember. Meditate on the parts of your body, including your mind. What sins did you commit with each part? Consider your life year by year, and by places, such as childhood home, school, residence and job. When you have completed the list, consider, "What am I in comparison to the offender? Have I needed Divine mercy any less than the offender? What right do I have to withhold forgiveness?” (Psalm 103:10; Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 17:1-11; Romans 3:9-26)
Step Ten: Compare the lists in steps four and nine. Open your Bible and read Romans 2:1-6. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you whether the actions of the other person, which have hurt you, are weaknesses, faults or sins of your own life. How have you done the same things?
Step Eleven: Consider this question - "Does the offender hold anger or a grudge against me?" Would the offender say that I was partly at fault? Have I acted or reacted in any negative or sinful way toward the offender?" Ask the Spirit to reveal to you how you may have contributed to the problem. (Matthew 5:23-24; 7:5; 1 Corinthians 4:4; James 4:11-12)
Step Twelve: Consider how your resentment has affected how you relate to others besides the offender. Ask the Spirit to reveal to you how resentment has prevented you from sacrificially loving others as Yeshua commands or how your negative behavior has hurt others, particularly loved ones. (Proverbs 11:11; Matthew 18:6; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 10:32; Hebrews 12:15)
Step Thirteen: Surrender the offender, your expectations and needs to God. You cannot change the offender or your situation by resentment. Release your grip on things that will perish with this world. Only God can meet your deepest needs. Admit that you are responsible for your feelings and behavior, not the offender. Commit yourself to stop justifying your anger. (Luke 6:35; 1 Corinthians 6:7, 19-20; 9:15, 18; Philippians 2:5-8; 2 Peter 1:3)
Step Fourteen: Pray daily for the offender and yourself. Pray that God will have mercy on the offender and bless him or her. Use the Lord's Prayer in a personalized way to pray for the offender. Insert the name of the offender for each place the word “our” is said or implied in the prayer, with the one exception, as I forgive. Ask the Lord to fill you with a deep and genuine love for the offender. Rejoice in the Lord for His purposes that He has for you in allowing this hurt to happen. Ask the Lord to help you mature spiritually through this experience. (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28; Romans 8:28; 10:1; Philippians 1:12-18; 4:4)
Step Fifteen: Ask yourself what Yeshua's response would be in your situation. Think about what Yeshua said about and to those who executed Him. If the offender is still living, consider what good you could do for him or her. What could you do to reflect the love of Yeshua and the good news of forgiveness? Kindness can be simple. Don't wait to do right until you feel right. Obedience to God is not based on feeling but on willingness. (2 Kings 6:8-23; Luke 6:27-36; 23:34; Romans 12:20-21; Philemon)
Freedom from resentment always comes by way obeying Messiah Yeshua and following his example. Be persistent in these steps and trust in the Lord to do justice for you.
Copyright © 2007-2015 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.