There sure are a lot of wrong theories and sayings about forgiveness out there, these days! Most people have heard them all, too many times.
Still, although logic tells us something is wrong, we strain to forgive according to all the wrong theories we’ve heard.
We cannot figure it out.
Nothing seems to happen.
Several of our victimizers do not stay forgiven very long at all.
To get a grasp on exactly what we are supposed to do, let’s first eliminate all wrong thinking upon which some people may be trying to convince us to act. For instance, forgiveness is not:
Forgiveness is NOT saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” When someone has done hurtful wrong against you, IT IS NOT OKAY!
It should make us feel all rotten inside to say it is.
Why? Because spreading wrongful hurt is not okay; it is sin. Sin is not okay with God; how could it be okay with us?
Saying it is okay, is denial. It’s just plain ol’ living a lie.
Only say, “It’s okay,” when it was not sin, was not intended as sin, and was not received as sin.
Only say, “It’s okay,” if you truly would be okay with it happening again.
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. How can anyone forget something on purpose!
We have miraculous brains that function largely by memory. We do not have back-space keys for our brains.
God can decide to forget something, if He wants, or He can cause us to forget something, but we do not have that kind of power.
Thinking we must forget, in order to prove we have forgiven, sets us up for making excuses. We say, “I’ll never be able to forgive that, because I just can’t forget what he did.” Or we think we have not forgiven because memories keep resurfacing.
We haven’t forgiven, obviously, because we still remember it?
So it must be hopeless to try?
What a wide-open door for excuses!
Forgiveness is NOT trusting. It is neither safe nor wise to trust someone who has proven himself to be untrustworthy.
To send a youngster back to a bullying classroom or molesting teacher, to lend more money to someone who has not repaid, to tell a secret to a gossip, is just plain folly.
Yes, we must forgive those who sin against us, but we do NOT have to trust them again, in order to prove we have done so.
We certainly do not have to feel guilty for helping put such a one in jail, if his sin was illegal.
Besides that, trust, by its very nature, must be earned, cannot be demanded.
So What IS Forgiveness?!
If we look up the word, “forgive,” we can find the original meanings of its ancient parts: to give far away, to “far-give”.
Think: Where would you put all that pain, if you could download it somewhere else? How far away would be far enough? Would sending it into another existence be far enough? It would do fine, for me.
The farthest possible distance from me, from this existence is:
In God’s hands. When He takes it, it’s gone.
Giving it to Him can feel like work, but it is forgiveness. And is far less work than dealing with your current agony. I know.
- Forgiveness is SAYING, “I forgive it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Yes, it is like writing a check on His checkbook to pay a debt, which we cannot actually do unless we are actually His.)
It is a transaction, like writing off a bad debt. Our feelings may be screaming, but it is not about feelings; it is about getting past this great wrong and moving on with this life. It’s about positioning ourselves for the next life beyond.
- Forgiveness is REFUSING to remember the sin against the sinner.
Yes, it was a bad debt; no, we will not continue mentally sending bills to “debtor’s prison”. That part is over.
- Forgiveness is MINISTERING to the sinner.
Maybe the only safe or possible thing we can do is pray for him, but because we, ourselves, have been forgiven by so marvelous a God, we are free and power-filled to do so.
Seeing this is a mark of true forgiveness.
Now we have dealt with the why’s of suffering and forgiveness, and we have defined terms. Come on by tomorrow and get the HOW-TO and some FAQ’s.
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6 thoughts on “Denial, Excuses, and Folly, Oh No!”
Thank you for this post, Kathy. You are so right–with each line, my head nodded and my heart agreed with you.
I like the part about how forgiveness is not forgetting or trusting. There are many people in my life who have wronged me, and I love them and have certainly forgiven them, but would not lend them money/trust them with a possession of mine/etc., in this lifetime again!
And this line:
“Only say, ‘It’s okay,’ if you truly would be okay with it happening again.”
was perfect. I must admit that I am in the “it’s okay” camp–it’s too easy to say that, not really mean it, and just try to ‘get over it’, you know? But I should not do that. It is OK to acknowledge a wrong and to feel hurt. I will use this now to remind myself when saying “it’s okay” is OK or not!
Oh, Victoria, thank you for this kind comment! I am so glad my words blessed you.
Once, when I was teaching a workshop on this topic, and said the part about forgiveness not equalling trust, a woman stood up in the room and said a loud, “THANK YOU!” I know it can be such a liberating truth. I love the truth. 🙂
Trust must be earned, little by little. Those who are trying to reform may be worthy of trusting with small matters, to see if they are strong enough to earn more trust, but I know your feeling, about never trusting again. Some just will disappoint every time. No two ways about it. Whether we trust them or not, we can still forgive and put their sins behind us. Isn’t that wonderful!
What a wonderful post! I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately as I’ve read some heart wrenching stories. I wrote a while back on Forgive and Forget. I SO agree with you. Only God can do that – and it would, as you say, sometimes be folly for us.
I have little trouble forgiving others – but myself – hmm… That’s where God is working on me, this very night!
This is my very favorite part: “Where would you put all that pain, if you could download it somewhere else? How far away would be far enough? Would sending it into another existence be far enough? It would do fine, for me.
The farthest possible distance from this existence is: in God’s hands. When He takes it, it’s gone.
That is profound and beautiful and something I’ll remember – always. Thank you!
Thanks for this comment, Debbie! I may post on “forgiving self” before this is over. 🙂 I am so glad you have found blessings here. Keep coming back and let’s get to know each other!