I’ve spent a big part of this last month studying the concept of forgiveness. I think there’s a lot of confusion as to what it means and why it’s important. I’ve come to realize it’s essential for anyone who is trying to move forward and reach a healthier place in their life. As a result, I’d like to share some key concepts I’ve discovered so you can put them to use in your life.
Forgiveness is commanded
We are told repeatedly in the Bible that we are to extend forgiveness. It’s not an option. It’s not a guideline or recommendation. God is VERY clear that it is expected of us. We get frustrated by this because we fear that by forgiving, we are letting the offender off the hook. Somehow we believe that by holding the grudge or anger over what happened to us, we punish the offender.
Forgiveness frees us
Holding onto our hurts holds us prisoner though. Making the choice to extend forgiveness sets us free from the burden of the ugliness we carry within us when we are hurt or angry at someone. While the person who hurt us is wrong and has sinned, we are sinning by our negative reaction to what they did.
Forgiveness allows us access back into fellowship with the Father
When we have sinned, it affects our relationship with our Holy God. It doesn’t remove our salvation (that isn’t possible), but it affects the quality of relationship. I describe it to my clients by saying “There’s junk in the way rather than a clear path.” Acknowledging that we have sinned due to our reaction and asking for forgiveness, removes those barriers.
Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the forgiven
Don’t confuse forgiveness with forgetting. It’s not possible to forget hurts that have occurred. But forgiveness is a conscious choice not to think about it over and over again, wish you’d reacted differently, or that the offender had received what was due him or her. Instead, it is a matter of trusting that God is in the middle of the situation and will take care of it so you don’t have to.
Forgiveness is not a matter of making a hurt little and pretending that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Quite the contrary. Instead, it is acknowledging that is was such a big deal that it is affecting you in negative ways and you need to let it go so that you can move forward with your life.
Be sure to check back soon for some of the most common questions I get asked about forgiveness.