Do You Cringe Thinking About Forgiving?
Like many other things that come out of the Bible, forgiveness is a concept that often gets twisted. It gives many of us a bad taste in our mouths for things that God calls us to (church, love, respect, submission, etc.). Forgiveness is something that is going to look different in many different situations, and especially relationship to relationship. Forgiveness is a personal, and sometimes even private matter, even though some don’t always see it that way.
Forgiveness has an impact, especially in the cases of the unforgivable. We know that it seems impossible, so when we get to witness or experience that forgiveness of the unforgivable, we notice, and often marvel at it. As humans, we seem to have this scale of one sin being worse than another. I don’t feel as though God has this same scale. He doesn’t err to the side of terrible sins being shrunk down, but instead, I feel as though God views every sin as equally terrible. So terrible, in fact, that just one sin, one time, can eternally separate us from Him. The reason I bring this up is because we need to have a proper biblical and godly view of sin before we can move on to the subject of forgiveness. So often, we feel justified in our unforgiveness, bitterness, and grudges because we feel like the offense is unforgivable. In God’s eyes, every sin is unforgivable, yet He has made a way for us to be forgiven. Out of gratitude for His forgiveness, we too must forgive the unforgivable.
The Only Way We Are Able to Forgive the Unforgivable
First things first, we must understand that God’s forgiveness is a free gift, but it has to be received and opened in order to access the benefits of this gift. To put in a more straight forward way, God offers forgiveness to all in the form of sending His Son on earth to die on the cross and to be raised after three days. But, for those who don’t confess with their mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead, they will not be saved (Romans 10:9). To be saved is to have eternal life in heaven as opposed to eternal suffering in hell.
So, if God created us knowing that we would sin, and be separated from Him, yet He has continued to forgive and sacrifice for us, why do we think we are immune from forgiving others? We so often do it on our own terms, which is unacceptable. In abusive relationships, ungodly things occur, to say the least. The unforgivable happens. Yet, God still calls us to forgive. We have been abusers and neglecters of our relationship with God. He has felt the feelings we feel. His heart is also broken as He watches His creation abuse His beloved children. Could He stop it if He wanted? Of course, but that is for a different post. To put your mind at ease on the matter for the moment, I will leave you with this, “Evil comes from the abuse of free will.” -CS Lewis.
Truth About Forgiveness
My opinion on forgiveness matters very little, but God has so much to say about it that my opinion isn’t even needed here.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
Matthew 6:12, 14-15
Yup, He really said it here. Plain as day. If you choose not to forgive – because it is a choice every time, and certain offenses have to be reforgiven over and over again – you will not be forgiven.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9
This tells us that we are all in need of forgiveness, and we have to acknowledge and confess that in order to receive forgiveness.
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
Why do we hang on to unforgiveness for others offenses towards us when God has forgiven our unforgivable? We all do it, and so many of us don’t see issue with it when we feel justified.
If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;
God ignores us when we value bitterness over obedience through forgiveness.
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.
If for no other reason, forgive to remain in good standing with God.
Therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Forgiveness and repentance before anything else.
- If we do not forgive, God will not forgive us.
- If we confess our sins, God will forgive us.
- We must forgive the unforgivable.
- We must forgive seventy times seven (just another way to say always).
- It is a sin to refuse to forgive.
- We need forgiveness often.
- Others need forgiveness often.
- We must ask for forgiveness.
- We must be repentant of our own sins, asking for forgiveness (not simply saying sorry).
So many of us come from situations where we have a hard time fathoming forgiveness. It’s hardly even a thought that has crossed our minds because we don’t think it’s even possible. It is, and it’s not easy.
What is Forgiveness and What is it Not?
Forgiveness IS an action, NOT a feeling. Just like love. The feelings may come, but they may never come. We must do it out of an obedient heart to the Lord.
Forgiveness IS meant to be unconditional, grace is not. Grace is still to be given generously, and even when something is not deserved. But, the difference here is forgiveness should happen in every circumstance, whereas grace often needs repentance preceding it.
Forgiveness does NOT always mean reconciliation. Forgiveness IS something we do in our hearts with God’s help, but that doesn’t always mean that it is safe or healthy for a relationship to be restored.
Forgiveness is NOT disregarding boundaries. Like I said before, forgiveness IS done in our hearts. But, even when spoken with our mouths, this shouldn’t ever be a green light for an abusive or unrepentant person to pick up where they left off.
Forgiveness is NOT making someone pay back a debt to you that they owe. You are setting them free of payment. You are not looking for penance.
Forgiveness does NOT free offenders from their accountability from God.
Forgiveness does NOT relieve anyone from God’s judgement.
Not the Words I Wanted to Hear
When we are dealing with people who are continuously committing evil, it’s hard to hear about the work we need to do in our own lives. My philosophy has always been to just get it all done while I’m working on it. I’m working on me, I’m working on healing, so I want to go all the way. I don’t want to settle for less than God’s best for me anymore because I did that for far too long, and I still pay the price for my bad decisions. I want God’s best for you too, but it won’t happen if you don’t fully obey God. Please don’t get me wrong, I fall short everyday, especially on this subject of forgiveness. But when we are weak, He is strong. Rely on Him, and ask Him to show you who and how you need to forgive. I promise, that is a prayer He will answer.
“If you are carrying the awful weight of sins committed against you, God longs to exchange your burdens for freedom.” -MaryLynn Johnson
If you are need support please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
If you want to share your own story, knowing that you could help others, please submit here.
Click here for a free download to find practical help discovering, identifying, documenting, escaping and healing from abuse.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233