Wednesday, 24 October 2012

What Forgiveness is Not

Laura Petherbridge
A recent blog by Laura Petherbridge struck a nerve.  In part she begins with the following assertions:

(Christians) understand the importance of forgiveness; however few have been taught how. A critical reason the endless cycle of bitterness and revenge continues is due to an inaccurate or distorted view of forgiveness. A number of resources exist that explain what forgiveness is, but there is little to help a person understand what forgiveness is not. And that is often the key to success.

While I think her post is helpful, I would be inclined to take issue with the fact that Christians truly understand the importance of forgiveness.  How about Matthew 6:15 “ But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  The emotional, physical and spiritual consequences derived from an unforgiving heart can be catastrophic.

But Laura’s point is well taken.  Many of us have some misperceptions about what forgiveness is, so here is what it is not.

Forgiveness is not a feeling - If you are waiting until the feeling to forgive comes upon you, it's unlikely to occur. Forgiveness should be an act of obedience to God because we trust hino and believe he has our best interest at heart.

 Forgiveness is not pretending you weren't hurt = Christianity is not about denying a wound caused by another. Someone has betrayed your trust, damaged your soul, or caused a loss. You are justified in recognizing the hurt instigated by another's sinful or poor choices.

Forgiveness is not saying what the person did is okay.- Many people reject forgiveness because it feels as though the wrongdoer is getting away with the offense.

Forgiveness does not mean you trust the person - After a betrayal it is crucial for trust to be earned over time. Trust is not an automatic right of the offender. Forgiveness does not mean you immediately allow the person back into your life or your heart.

Forgiveness is not relieving the person of responsibility- A person shouldn't be "off the hook" from his or her responsibilities just because you choose to forgive.

In fact you are not to acknowledge that you have forgiven the person even though you have unless they have repented of their sin and come to you and asked for forgiveness.  Luke 17:3

Forgiveness may not be a onetime event. - Those who are closest to us may hurt us repeatedly, requiring us to learn how to forgive multiple times.

Many marriages are adversely affected because either the husband and wife cannot forgive one another or because of an inability to forgive someone else who hurt them prior to the marriage

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