Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:13
Sometimes we need to forgive more than once. One act of forgiveness may cover a small offense but a deep hurt will likely require more. Forgiveness can be both an act and a process. We forgive the initial act that cut us so deeply. Then we must continue in the process of forgiveness as we deal with the consequences of that initial act. This requires ongoing forgiveness.
The enemy loves to try to sneak resentment back into our hearts even after we feel like we’ve forgiven. First, he’ll try to get us to believe that we haven’t actually forgiven the initial offense. This is a lie. This is intended to bring shame and condemnation. It is very likely that you have, actually, forgiven. But now it is not about the initial act anymore. It is now about forgiving the fall out from that hurt. This requires an ongoing attitude and posture of forgiveness.
Next, the enemy will try to convince you that because you have forgiven, you don’t need to forgive again. This is a half-truth. Yes, you have forgiven. That much is true. But you must continue in forgiveness. And sometimes this requires praying out loud, again, a declaration that you forgive that person. Yes, you’ve already done that, but you are doing it again so that the little residual resentments have no place to plant their deceptive seeds of bitterness.
Paul tells the Colossians to “forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Did the Lord forgive once and for all at the cross? Yes! Yet, does He continue to forgive each time we confess our sins? Yes! Both are necessary.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Our initial act of forgiveness is like tilling the garden soil, breaking up the ground of our hearts, so that the Lord can plant things that will bear the good fruit of the Spirit. Our ongoing process of forgiving is like weeding the garden. It is what will prevent any resentment from contaminating our heart and bearing the fruit of bitterness and coldness.