True Forgiveness is
True Forgiveness is
Is it possible that even after reading the Scripture and examining the concepts that we’ve explored, you still find forgiveness too painful and difficult to complete? When you open up God’s Word the Lord is truly speaking to your heart about the importance of forgiveness. And as you look back over the specific situations where forgiveness has been the hardest in your life, I pray that you have seen not only the depths of your sin that God has forgiven you of, but also the great deep well of His grace that can even now supply you with something that you need to show mercy to others. Perhaps if truth be known you’d rather keep nursing your wounds and savoring your resentment than to release the offenses that have been brought against you. It may be that you’re just not ready to forgive. If that’s the case I feel compelled to share a loving but earnest word of warning.
Your unwillingness to trust and obey God in this matter even if it’s more from exhaustion or perseverance than from the hardness of your heart, it will affect your relationship with God. When Paul was writing to the Ephesians about the new life in Christ he cautioned them not to let their anger cause them to sin, and to allow the devil an opportunity to influence them. Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV) 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. Paul is not telling them that what was done to them was not terrible. But he is cautioning them that if they want to have comfort they can only receive that by forgiving others.
It is possible that you have been misled by a common assumption – that forgiveness and good feelings always go hand in hand. You may have honestly and genuinely trusted God to help you forgive your offender. You’ve laid it all out before God, and you’ve released your feelings and forgiven this individual. Then a similar situation occurs and these old feelings flare up again. You may even make the statement “I guess I haven’t really forgiven them, because if I had, I wouldn’t still have these feelings.” Forgiveness cannot be proven by our feelings, anymore and it can be motivated or empowered by our feelings. Always remember forgiveness is a choice we make. Our feelings are not choices.
Another common assumption is – can’t we just forget it? Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget about the event. Let me point you to a Scripture about the way God has forgiven us, where He has placed our sins. Psalm 103:12 (ESV) 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. The Bible never says that God forgets our sins. How could a God who knows everything forget anything? Instead the Bible says that He has not counted our sins against us. 2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV) 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. God makes a choice not to remember them and charge them against us not to bring them back up ever again to accuse or condemn us with them. Hebrews 10:17 (ESV) 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” This is His model for us the silent promise of forgiveness. So the fact that you have not been able to forget the offense doesn’t necessarily mean that you haven’t forgiven it.
2 Corinthians 1:3–4 (ESV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Forgiveness is far more than just a way for us to cope with our own wounds. The mercy and grace of God and the lessons learned along the way are intended to extend beyond us and to be a means of blessings to others.