There are 2 kinds of forgiveness: the kind God gives us and the kind we give to one another.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Matthew 6:12
In the ultimate sense, it is only God that can pardon sin. So our responsibility is more of a proper attitude, since we are Christ's ambassadors here on earth. This means that we cannot repay evil for evil. (Romans 12:17) We cannot hate the sinner. Instead, we need to show agape love toward the sinner. (More on agape love later if this is a new term for you.) We need to "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32) We need to leave the door open for the sinner and long for them to drop in.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13
The best way to grow this kind of attitude is to remember a few things: (1) Remember the value of each and every human soul. We cannot be selective with whom we forgive and show kindness to. (2) Don't be selective in the sins that you think are forgivable. God lumps in the sin of murder with envy, strife, deceit, and malice. (Romans 1:29) (3) Along the same lines, remember that we ourselves have grieved God: Remember "...to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another." (Titus 3:2-3) Last but not least (4) remember to be forgiving because it creates peace within yourself. Living with a bitter, unforgiving attitude will bring you down and create unnecessary stress. God doesn't want that for you!
So how should we act toward the post-abortive woman then? We need something called agape love. Agape love is defined as divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, volitional, thoughtful love. Agape love is more of a principal that we live out than an emotion that we feel in our hearts. The best description of agape love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul talks about the character of love. Let's look step by step:
1. Love is patient. In other words, love waits. It doesn't expect quick changes of heart in another person. When a woman has an abortion, usually there is no quick repentance. There can be, but usually the feeling of sadness and regret takes awhile to seep in. Sometimes days. Sometimes weeks. Sometimes years. Sometimes decades! God tells us what we should be doing during that time. We should be waiting for that person to realize what has happened. Not so that we can say, "It's about time!" or because we are waiting to feel superior to them, but rather, God wants us to wait so that when that woman realizes what abortion did to her, to her baby, and to God, she has a refuge in you...someone who can tell her of the forgiveness of God and extend hope to her. This isn't about us. This is about being a tool that God can use to shine his love on post-abortive women.
2. Love is kind. Proverbs 19:22 says "What is desirable in a man is his kindness..." Kindness is what is desired in you and I. Not frustration. Not a superiority complex. Just kindness. Seems too easy doesn't it? The truth is, being kind in the face of wrongdoing is the hardest thing to accomplish. Who wants to turn the other cheek? But to be desirable - someone that God can use in the life of a post-abortive woman - we need to be kind when no one else is. Luke 6:35 says, "...for [God] Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." What could be more Christ-like?
3. Love does not envy. I don't think any one of us envies the post-abortive woman. What we might envy is how some seemingly get through it so easily. Jealousy is the resentful desire for another's advantages. We might be jealous of the peace, prosperity, and relief that many post-abortive women experience. God tells us not to feel envy, however. I think He would desire us to, instead, pray that these women will be guided gently out of denial so they can experience healing.
4. Love does not boast. Agape love is selfless. It does not want others to feel second-best, and instead, it seeks to be uplifting and encouraging toward others. Be there with a kind, humble word to any post-abortive woman you deal with.
5. Love is not proud. Being proud generally means that you have a superior manner toward an inferior. This can consist of a demeaning attitude. One of, "I'm better than you." Remember that we have all grieved God at one point. We don't have the right to wag our fingers at anyone.
6. Love is not rude. It does not deliberately seek to offend others. We should not hold any contempt toward the post-abortive woman in our hearts, because if we do, that contempt is going to spew forth. You can't represent God with that attitude.
7. Love is not self-seeking. Self-seeking behavior is defined as exhibiting concern only with promoting one's own ends or interests. Think of others instead, and look for ways to serve. Instead of thinking how much you are upset by abortion, drop that attitude, and put the concern where it belongs!
8. Love is not easily angered. Jackpot! This is the one that can make or break you in the eyes of the post-abortive woman. Do you walk around with a chip on your shoulder? At bad news, do you immediately launch into a tirade? Do you immediately get openly frustrated and disgusted when you discover someone has had an abortion? It's one thing to share the truth bluntly. It's quite another to share the truth with love. I've heard it so many times, "I told her just what a horrible thing she did." "I just can't even bear to talk to her anymore now that I know." If God is not easily angered, who do we think we are?
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not keep score. Do you make a mental note of all the things that a woman has done surrounding her abortion? How she callously referred to it as a "fetus," how she refused to listen to you, how she didn't want to look at the ultrasound, and how she seems to be perfectly happy now that she is no longer pregnant? That's not what love does. Love says, "While you did do wrong, I'm going to love you anyway, hope for your happiness, and pray for your healing."
10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I think we would all agree that we don't have a problem with this one. The only thing I would add here is that not only should we not delight in the evil of abortion, but we also should not delight when a woman suffers from sadness and/or depression from an abortion. We shouldn't have the attitude of "I told you so" or "You're getting what you deserve." We should instead rejoice in the truth that God loves and wants to heal these women.
11. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love offers support, and it does so in a way that does not publicly shame others but rather quietly works to help. Love will give the benefit of the doubt. It does not quickly condemn but rather slowly works to bring about healing. Love believes that the post-abortive woman will be healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Lastly, love does not easily give up on anyone - no matter how difficult the situation and attitude.
Remember that there is always a bigger picture. As a representative of God and as a pro-life/pro-woman person, you are going to have an impact on post-abortive women that can last for a lifetime. She is always going to remember how the various people in her life treated her after her abortion. Who treated her with contempt for her decision? Who offered unconditional love? Who was indifferent and unhelpful? Don't let Planned Parenthood be her source for love and support. My prayer is that post-abortive women will be able to see us as the ones who offer her love, help, and support - before and after any decision.
See also: The Biblical Concept of Forgiveness and The Challenge of Agape Love.