What Forgiveness is Not

October 3, 2009

Forgiving someone that has hurt you is tough.  Here is RT Kendall’s list of what forgiveness is not, along with a few comments of my own.

What Forgiveness is NOT:

1.  You Don’t Have To Approve of What They Did: Jesus forgave the adulterous woman, but he didn’t approve of what she did.  He also forgives us, but he doesn’t approve of what we do.  We don’t have to say “it’s ok.”  They hurt you so it’s not “ok,” but you still have to make the choice to forgive in the face of their wrong.

2.  It’s Not Making Excuses For Them: They hurt you.  You don’t have to say, “It’s how they were raised” or “I deserved it.”

3.  Don’t Justify What They Did: God never tries to justify our sin.  There is no excuse for what we do, yet he chooses to forgive.

4.  Don’t Pardon Them:  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you don’t testify against them if what they did was a crime.  We can forgive them, yet they may still have to face consequences for their actions.

5.  You Can Forgive Without Reconciling:  Forgiveness is not required for both sides.  You aren’t responsible for their attitude. If they have hard feelings against you, that’s out of your control. You are only responsible for you.  Also, if they are still intent on continuing their pattern of sin against you, you may have to draw boundaries and keep them at a distance.  The point is to get rid of your bitterness towards them, not necessarily to invite to your birthday party if they continue their pattern of transgression.

6.  Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean Denying What They Did: Love keeps no record of wrong but it doesn’t deny that there was a wrong committed.

7.  You Can’t Forgive and Forget:  We are human.  We remember.  The challenge is that when we do remember, we make the choice to forgive.  This may be on a daily or even hourly basis at firt.

Total forgiveness is often not possible without God’s help.  Maybe your prayer should be “I forgive them God.  Help me to forgive them.”  Bitterness will affect your health, relationships with others, and your relationship with God.  Holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness hurts us more than it does the person that we are bitter against.

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One Response to “What Forgiveness is Not”

  1. These are good distinctions to make. I know I’ve often been hesitant to forgive others, or been willing to do it but deceived enough to think I wasn’t capable despite trying (because I was unable to forget or couldn’t “invite them to my birthday” as you put it).

    Clarifying some of the myths and truths about forgiveness really helps make forgiving others more manageable, and gives me (and I’m sure others) more courage to actually do it. Forgiving is hard enough without battling misconceptions at the same time.

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