As a culture, we believe things about forgiveness that aren’t true.
Myth 1: Forgiveness is minimizing the seriousness of the offense.
Myth 2: Forgiveness requires reconciliation.
- Forgiveness is between me and God more so than me and the person who wronged me.
- For people who wait for the other person to start the process, that is handing over control of your life to the person who hurt you.
Myth 3:Forgiveness is forgetting what happened. Unfortunately, we will never forget what happened, especially true the more hurt-filled the situation was.
One reason that often keeps us from forgiving is that we think it’s not fair. Life isn’t fair and we should be grateful that God’s not fair. In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), we see a man who was forgiven a large sum of money, valued today at approximately $5 billion. Instead of offering that same extravagant forgiveness to others, he demanded repayment from one of his debtors of a sum of money equal to about $10,000-$12,000. The one who had forgiven him the $5 billion heard about it and threw him in prison until the money was repaid. We are the person who has been forgiven an amount that is impossible to repay, which is completely unfair. We need to be just as unfair in our response to others.
In order to forgive this way, we need to acknowledge two important things.
- This will not come easily or naturally.
- Waiting till you feel like forgiving means that you will never do it.
People who walk in freedom don’t rely on their emotions to determine their actions. Instead, they use the scriptures to guide and train their choices.
The scriptures tell us how we are to respond to those who have wronged us.
- Pray for them (Matthew 5:43-44). This doesn’t mean praying they will get “in trouble” with the Lord. It means honestly putting them before the Lord. You can’t pray for someone and hate them at the same time. Eventually, one of them will give. We must be guarding our hearts against hate taking hold in our hearts. Prayer is how we do that.
- Bless them (Romans 12:14). This is specifically referring to words. If you say that you’ve forgiven, and then speak badly about them every time they come up, you’re undoing any benefit of forgiveness (assuming you’ve actually forgiven them).
- Do good to them (Luke 6:27-28). Doing good things for those who have wronged us sounds crazy. No one operating out of the natural would do this. We’re spiritually transformed, meaning we will be lead by the Spirit of God and the truth of God’s scriptures. The only way these kinds of actions are possible is by the knowledge that God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).