What It Is and What It Isn't Could Surprise You!
This article on forgiveness explained is an introduction to "Matters of the Heart," our free eCourse for spiritual growth and emotional transformation. The 24 Main Healing Lessons from the course can be found in the downloads section in PDF and MP3 formats. They are also available in our Store as an ebook, a 176 page workbook and as CD and DVD sets of 24, 1/2 hour teachings.
Let's Clear Out the Confusion
The wounded heart cries out: "Why should I forgive?" There are so many confused ideas floating around about what forgiveness is. It is no wonder people don't want to do it! Genuine forgiveness, however, is highly desirable. Clearly, we need forgiveness explained to us. When we see it for what it offers us, we will get behind and push! It always restores a sense of inner peace and freedom into the heart of the one who does it. Who wouldn't want that? Let's clear away the confusion by taking a closer look at seven things forgiveness isn't.
What Forgiveness Is NOT:
1) Forgiveness Is NOT A Feeling. Don't wait for the feeling to show up. You go to work when you don't want to, right? You do it for the sake of a paycheck or for career goals. Forgiving is just like that. The "pay check" is emotional healing and a fresh lease on life; our "career goal" is to please the Lord! The Lord doesn't command us to eat food. He knows we will! He commands us to forgive, since He knows we won't naturally want to do it.
2) Forgiveness Is NOT Minimizing The Damage. Remember training wheels on your bike? They helped us get going in the beginning, but they got in the way once we no longer needed them. Downplaying the harm that was done or the hurt we felt is a "training wheel" that gets us moving down the path of releasing wrongs. Eventually though, some wrongs show up that just can't be minimized. Genuine forgiveness sees sin for what it is--and forgives it. Only then is our spiritual health resored.
3) Forgiveness Is NOT Revisiting The Memory. Those who fly know what it is like to be caught in a holding pattern, circling the airport for their plane's turn to land. A remembered wrong grips our heart with a similar kind of "holding pattern." Our thoughts keep returning to it! Jesus requires that we forgive fully from the heart. When this happens our feelings "come in for a landing." All the pain is gone! We have actually joined our God in His ability to forgive and forget!
4) Forgiveness Is NOT Excusing The Wrong Behavior. There are always reasons for doing wrong but no excuses. Reasons can help us understand why the person acted they way they did--and gain compassion for them. God surely sees the mixture of pain and confusion out of which so much sinful behavior springs. This moves His own great Heart to pity us. He doesn't excuse or condone sin. He hates it. He opposes it. He punished it at the cross. And in so doing He made a way for us to be forgiven. That was hard work on God's part, but clearing His heart to love us freely was evidently worth it to Him. Aren't you glad?
5) Forgiveness Is NOT A Reward For Good Behavior. If someone wrongs me, that makes him "the bad guy." But if he realizes it and tries to make it up to me and I refuse to forgive him that makes me the bad guy! Why? Simple justice demands that I forgive the person who genuinely repents to me and seeks reconciliation. This, however, is not Christian forgiveness! Our life in Christ is mercy based, not justice based. We forgive the same way Jesus does. It is a pure gift of mercy that the offender need do nothing to deserve.
6) Forgiveness Is NOT A Divine Pardon. We seem to imagine that we have a great meat hook inside our heart where offenders are hung out to dry. Forgiving them will be "letting them off the hook." On the contrary, we will be placing them into God's Hands. No one cares more about justice being done than the very same God who commands mercy. By His goodness our Lord desires to bring everyone to repentance and eventual correction. He will work on any situation of injustice we give him. Let Him have His turn!
7) Forgiveness Is NOT Blindly Trusting. If a "friend" steals your TV as he is leaving, you certainly don't have to invite him back! You are even allowed, sometimes morally required, to call the police and prosecute a wrong done. But you must forgive. That is not an option. Forgiveness is required of us to give to everyone in every situation. No one has to deserve our forgiveness. Trust, however is different. Trust has to be earned.
What Forgiveness IS:
Forgiveness is giving your pain, the person and the injustice to God and trusting God with it all!
Clear away these seven misconceptions that may be causing you to hang on to hurt when you need to let it go. Restored inner peace is waiting for you!
Give it all to God.
And then breathe the sweet air of freedom!
Interested in Going Deeper?
Consider taking our free eCourse for Healing. We have designed a complete series for personal transformation, "Matters of the Heart," to help Christians gain emotional freedom and inner healing. In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!