Some of you are cringing right now thinking about forgiveness. This subject usually brings up some pretty strong emotions mostly because what forgiveness is isn't understood. Here are some misconceptions about forgiveness:
- It is letting the other person off the hook for what they have done
Let's take these misconceptions one at a time.
When someone hurts you or wrongs you, they owe you. They have incurred a debt with you and if you are like most people, you want payment. If you forgive them it feels as if you lose repayment. Well, forgiveness is a transference of a debt to another. The debt is now owed to them instead of us.
Does it is let the other person off the hook?
The offender is not released from paying for what they have done, instead they now owe the debt to Christ. We take their debt and we forgive it by giving it to the Lord. The person who hurt you isn't involved in this decision, it is yours alone.
The Lord tells us to forgive so that we can receive forgiveness for our own wrong doing. When we forgive, we give Him the debt owed us. But, Christ will forgive them, you say?
Here's the deal - we give to the Lord the debts owed us and He is wise enough to know what to do with them. He might take it to the cross. He may provide consequences to help them come to Him. He may hold it against them for eternity. You give Him the debt and let go. Allow Him to do with it as He will.
Forgiveness, by our definition is a transference of a debt, no part of this includes a required restoration of relationship.
Does it mean you have to let the offender back in your life?
Some people are not safe to be around, physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. We have to set good, healthy boundaries with these people and that might include keeping them out of your daily life.
Some people have hurt you and when you forgive them it might mean that you do restore relationship. Each incident is to be taken individually.
The Lord forgave Peter and restored relationship after his betrayal but He kept good boundaries with the Pharasees. Be as wise as the Lord by actually speaking with Him about the one you are forgiving. He may want you back in relationship with them when you don't or not want you there when you do. Only He is wise enough to know what is best.
When we forgive, we still remember, BUT because Christ now holds that debt we can't bring it up against the other person. Remember, they don't owe you a thing after you forgive. However, trust may take time to rebuild.
Is it forgive and forget?
After forgiving, if you are rebuilding relationship with that person, they need to show you that they are a safe place for your heart. That happens as they consistently are.
If you wait for the pain to be gone before you forgive, you may never do it. It is forgiveness that helps the heart to heal.
Is it not feeling the pain anymore?
After forgiving the weight of the debt lifts and we can start to heal. Forgiveness is more about us then the person that hurt us. Unforgiveness damages us sometimes more than the original offense.
Find a time to be quiet with the Lord. While in His presence, bring the offense up and allow yourself to really feel it. Think through all that this offense did to you. Now, gather it up and offer it to the Lord. You are giving to Him all that you have held against the other. Trust that He will do what is perfect with it.
How exactly do you forgive?
Feel the weight lift as you give this to the Lord. Unforgiveness brings bondage, so giving it to God should bring some freedom. Let go and give this to Him. If you are still feeling pain, that is normal, just let Christ come to you and bring His comfort.
You, I, those who have hurt us are all responsible for the Lord having to die. It is how He chose to forgive each of us. None of us is less responsible. Christ died for us all and all of us that have accepted His forgiveness are forgiven. How can we chose to not forgive those standing next to us? How could you not choose to forgive yourself when Christ so obviously has?
Level ground at the foot of the cross
Some sins do enormous amounts of damage to our souls and, this type of injury sometimes needs a counselors help. Do this soon. Don't carry around great hurt when it is available to you to receive His healing.
What if the damage done to you is too great?
I have worked with many people who have experienced tremendous trauma and injury. Some carried this pain around for many years thinking that they could not be healed. But, our God is amazing, gentle, powerful, and able. Time after time He has healed completely and set those free who had been held captive by the injuries caused by others. And they were enabled to forgive. His healing is available to you as well.
If you are in need of counseling and would like to work with me, please use the contact form at left. You absolutely can forgive and heal and I would love to be part of that with you. If not me, please find a Christian counselor who can help you - don't wait.
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O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask your aid.
NLT Psalm 86:5