Too many followers of Christ are confused about forgiveness. They live out of lies they hold to as truth.
We don’t forgive because we believe the violator needs to pay. We feel the one who did us wrong needs to understand what we were put through. We want the one who sinned to acknowledge what they did and make amends.
But we must awaken to the fact that un-forgiveness leads to bitterness and separation from God. He has forgiven us and wants to enable us to make the choice to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Here are some questions I’ve come across over the years. If someone else has asked them, I know other people are thinking them. Let’s use Scripture to clear up the confusion.
Q. Does the offender pay if I don’t forgive?
A. No. But you pay. You only harm yourself when you refuse to forgive wrongs done to you.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(Matthew 6:14-15 NRSV)
If you forgive others, you will be forgiven.
(Luke 6:37 NLT)
Un-forgiveness is a sin God cannot look upon. It separates us from our loving Creator. If you want to see how serious it is, check out Jesus’ parable of the unrepentant servant in Matthew 18:21-35.
Q. Does forgiving someone let him or her “off the hook”?
A. No. It puts them into God’s hands.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 NIV)
Q. Shouldn’t I wait until they change before I forgive?
Forgive as Christ forgave you (Col 3:13).
How did the Father forgive us?
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8).
Before we deserved it… He showed us grace. You must choose to forgive whoever has wronged you. We forgive for the sake of our relationship with God, not for the sake of the other person.
Q. Shouldn’t I wait until I feel like forgiving?
A. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving… you never will. Forgiveness is a choice, a decision of your will.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 (NLT)
Q. Do I need to trust someone I forgive?
A. No. Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues.
Forgiveness is given while trust is earned. Forgiving someone does not mean they don’t face the consequences for their actions. It does not mean you put yourself into harm’s way. You are not a doormat for those who would hurt you.
This is excerpt from “The Freedom of Forgiveness” by Trevor Lund