Forgiveness – a tough subject for many reasons. There are many different views on what constitutes forgiveness, and there is so much information on the Internet concerning this. Who is right and who is wrong? How do you sort this all out and decide for yourself what is true and what is false?
What Forgiveness is and What it is Not
The first and foremost thing to remember about forgiveness is that if you desire to have the forgiveness of God, then you must forgive others.
Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses
When you make the choice to forgive someone it does not mean letting that person off the hook for wrongs committed against you, it means that you will choose to no longer hold them accountable for these wrongs. The one(s) that wronged you are still answerable to God for their wrongs, but you will not hold their wrongs against them any longer.
Many do not want to forgive because they feel that they are letting the one that wronged them off the hook; the one who hurt them got away with it. This view is not only wrong but will hold you back, and will cause you harm – not the one who wronged you. In choosing not to forgive, the one who will pay the biggest price is you and no one else.
Why You Should Forgive and How to Tell if You Have
Forgiveness is not about anyone else and it is not for anyone else. Forgiveness is for YOU. When you choose to forgive – you open the cell door to your own self imposed prison and allow yourself to walk out that door.
If we expect God to forgive us, then we necessarily must forgive others.
I want you to think about that person you have not forgiven, you know – the one who deeply hurt you. What are your first thoughts? Anger, depression, resentment, revenge, maybe all of these? Do you feel these strong emotions only because of what this person did to you? No. There is more to it than that, you feel these strong emotions and/or continue to think about it because you have chosen not to let go of the hurt and pain caused you. This leads to anger and resentment as well as other unhealthy emotions and can even negatively affect your health.
When you choose to forgive however, you free yourself from the bondage of these negative thoughts and emotions. When you have truly forgiven from your heart, you will no longer be a slave to these torrents of emotion that bog you down and drag you through the mud. Freedom will be yours!
If you bring up the past to the person who hurt you, using it to attack him or her, belittle or anger him or her – then you have not truly forgiven them. However, that being said, this is where this writer’s opinion will differ from others. Some will say that if you continue to think of the infringement against you, you have not forgiven. I disagree. How often do you think about it? Do you take any action or only think about it?
If one is always or often thinking about the wrong done to you, then it is likely you have not really forgiven. If one thinks about it on occasion but does nothing else, maybe you have forgiven – it depends. If one thinks about the offense and becomes upset – but then you stop yourself and remind yourself that, “I have chosen to forgive X for X”, then put it out of your mind – it is this writer’s opinion that you have chosen to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice and sometimes we need to choose to continue to forgive. Although we choose to forgive, that does not mean our pain instantly goes away, often it takes a while for that to happen.
Taking that first and all-important step of forgiving leads to the real healing. Choosing to forgive contrary to what others may tell you does not mean having to maintain a relationship with that person. Depending on what happened a relationship might end, but that in no way means that you have not forgiven. Forgiveness does not mean you always forget and sometimes you should not forget.
Choose to forgive and God will see to the rest – choose to forgive and choose healing.