Forgiveness is NOT:
- Saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” You can only say this if no one did you wrong, if you wouldn’t mind if they did it again. It is not okay with God for someone to do wrong. Don’t say it’s okay. That is not the truth. It is denial.
- Forgetting. You will remember, even after you forgive. We have brains that make decisions based on remembering. Our memories help us be safe. We do not have delete buttons. You are not God; don’t think you have to forget. That opens the door for excuses.
- Trusting. You do not have to trust an untrustworthy person, to prove you have forgiven him. The Bible often warns against trusting the untrustworthy. We must earn trust; no one can demand it. That is foolishness.
Now. Forgiveness IS:
- Saying, “I forgive you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your feelings may be screaming and you may have to pray hard to say these words and to make them true. It’s okay. That is what the throne of grace is for—to get grace to help us in time of need.
- Refusing to remember the sin against the sinner. It is a contract. Yes, something bad happened, but it is forgiven. The debt is paid. If you wrote off a bad debt as a wedding gift to a young debtor, would you then hope for payment or send a bill? No. It is forgiven.
Actually, it is a lot like giving it to God. The word “forgive” means to give far. How far is far enough? The hands of God—leave it in His hands. That will do quite nicely.
- Praying for the one who has hurt you. This is not optional. We are to love our enemies and do good to those who misuse us. It’s okay to do good from a distance, though. A card or phone call may be all you can manage. A secret pen pal note distances you even more, especially if you disguise your writing and mail from another town. Think hard—you can figure a safe way to bless the dangerous ones in your life.
We have to do this, Sisters. We must forgive, or we’re not forgiven, and who doesn’t need forgiving? We have to do this for our children’s sakes, too. When they see our ways with our enemies, when they see how we respond to our hurts, they will believe us more, about God.
And when God steps in and plants the forgiveness in your heart without any help from you, you’ll believe Him more, too.