Harsh words . . . disrespect . . . betrayal . . . a lie . . . hurt feelings . . . broken promises . . . gossip . . . theft . . . abandonment . . . broken boundaries . . . abuse . . . special events forgotten or ignored . . . silence . . . angry outbursts . . . resentment . . . unfulfilled expectations
What do all of these have in common?
These are things that can hurt our spirit and damage or even destroy our relationships if left untended. Human relationships are fraught with rough spots and difficult times. Forgiveness can bring healing to our spirits and hope to struggling relationships.
What is forgiveness not?
1. Forgiveness is not saying what the other person did is okay.
2. Forgiveness is not forgetting. The human mind is frequently unable to forget.
3. Forgiveness is not giving the other person a pass to treat us the same way again.
What IS forgiveness?
1. Forgiveness is letting go of our right for personal revenge, our right to get even, our right for "payback."
2. Forgiveness is understanding that no matter what someone has done to us, Jesus paid the penalty for that sin, for that wrong doing. Jesus offers the person forgiveness based on what He did on the cross. No matter how high a price we pay for the effect someone else's sin has on us, we will never pay as high a price as Jesus did. God can empower us to forgive, even when we feel it is impossible.
3. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Sometimes it is a difficult choice that we must make over and over until the feelings follow. Forgiveness is a choice we make regardless of the actions of the person who has sinned against us. It does not require repentance from the offender or restoration of the relationship. Forgiveness is a choice we make in our own heart and soul.
4. Forgiveness is choosing how we will live with the consequences of another person's sin. We can choose to live in anger, bitterness, and revenge and with all the damage that does to our soul. Or, we can choose to forgive. We can choose to let go and trust God when He promises that vengeance is His and that He will bring about justice. We can choose to let go and live in love and . . . peace.
5. Forgiveness is freeing ourselves from another person's power to hurt or victimize us over and over, even from a distance, even when they are not longer part of our lives. When we choose to forgive and let go, we free ourselves from another person's power to control, manipulate, or victimize us.
Choosing forgiveness is our first step toward healing and health both for our souls and for our relationships.
Tune in for Part 2, Repentance; and then for Part 3, Restoration.