Forgivessness: You know you should but. . .maybe you don’t want to forgive the person who wronged you. Here are three truths you must know about forgiveness. This article by Donna Hart, PhD, appeared first here on her website. It is used with permisison.
Jesus said, ‘…If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free’ (John 8:31-32).
What prevents us from abiding? How do we truly continue to abide in the truth as a disciple of the Lord?
One of the most common ways we are held captive, hindering our ability to abide, is by harboring unforgiveness. In states of unforgiveness, we actively stew on an offense ruminating, obsessing, and thinking about ways to punish the person rolling the thoughts over and over again in our minds.
Forgiveness Is Not Forgetting
Forgiveness is not forgetting – we do not just forget grievous offenses against us. In Isaiah 43:45, the Lord says,
I, I am he who blots your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
Here God is taking an active stance to refuse to call to mind our sins once he has forgiven us. God does not forget. He refuses to remember our sins against us. And we can follow His model.
In the same way, we can’t wait for our feelings to catch up with the necessity to forgive others. How come? Our feelings may never get there. Jesus says in Luke 17:4:
And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.
Forgiveness Is a Command
Jesus’ words are a command, teaching us that forgiveness is an act of obedience. He commands us to take our soul to task and cry out to God for help to wrestle our thinking into obedience.
Our hearts may be crying out, saying that we don’t want to forgive because the person’s sin against us is so wrong, and has injured so many. We must remember the person has sinned against us and God.
When we seek forgiveness from someone it should not be because we are sorry we got caught. Our motivation for asking for forgiveness should be based on our awareness that we have sinned against a holy God and the person. When we say we are sorry, we communicate that we feel bad that we have caused another person pain.
This grief is an important part of repentanc. Merely feeling sorry for something we’ve done falls short of taking full responsibility for the wrong committed. When we ask for forgiveness, we go beyond being sorry, accurately seeing our indebtedness, and ask for mercy.
Forgiveness Isn’t Easy
It is difficult to humble ourselves and say, “I acted wrongly, will you please forgive me?” These words require us to humbly admit our wrong and take full responsibility for our sin and accept the consequences.
When someone says, “I forgive you” it stamps “paid in full” across the wrong. It cancels the debt, it blots out the record, and this cannot be held against us again. Forgiveness is the act of relinquishing the right to exact payment.
With humility admit the wrong, take full responsibility, accept the consequences and be right before the Lord. When our hearts resonate with the words “paid in full’ we know we are abiding with the Lord.