Forgiveness is a widely misunderstood concept. Forgiveness is hard because we wrap it up in all our feelings of pain, disappointment, shattered expectations, and self-value.
Theologian Dallas Willard, in his book Life Without Lack, points out three common misconceptions about forgiveness:
- It requires reconciliation.
- You are required to forget the transgression.
- It should stop the painful healing process.
Willard states, “Forgiveness is the choice not to punish or seek revenge.” Godly forgiveness is a mindset, a choice, a release of your mind from the person and incident. It sets you free.
In fact, all the negative feelings wrapped up in unforgiveness will keep you in bondage, often without affecting the other person. Why offer that kind of control of yourself to someone else?
Forgiveness Command and the Promise
God’s command to forgive holds the promise of our forgiveness. Mark 11:25 explains, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Forgiveness allows you to keep your joy, peace, and receive God’s blessings.
Above all, this is only possible through our faith in God to support and strengthen us. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Remember what forgiveness is not. We are neither telling the other person they did not hurt us, nor are we saying we will continue to associate with them in the same way. We may or may not, depending on their continued actions.
To truly forgive, we are releasing ourselves into God’s care and the provision of His promises to heal and sustain us in peace.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.Colossains 3:13 NLT
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