Sunday, August 2

What FORGIVENESS Isn't--Part 2

Continued from previous post. These are the next 6 ways showing What Forgiveness Isn't:

1. Forgiveness isn’t partial. The Jewish standard in Jesus’ day was to forgive 3 times (“3 strikes and you’re out!”); the divine standard is “70 times 7” according to Jesus. What He meant is that there’s no limit to our pardon. In forgiving, we cancel the debt. It might be useful to write your hurt on a piece of paper, then tear it up, showing that the debt has been forgiven.

2. Forgiveness isn’t waiting for an apology. We initiate the healing by taking the first step. Determining who is wrong is less important than restoring the relationship. Sometimes those doing the hurting feel they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not our job to convince them otherwise but, in our hearts, to forgive them. Telling someone who doesn’t want forgiveness that they’re forgiven can be an insult. It may be better to picture the one who hurt you in an empty chair, tell them how you feel, and that you forgive.

3. Forgiveness isn’t a one-time event. There is no instant forgiveness in that true forgiveness takes effort. It is a lengthy process of steady growth as a relationship is gradually restored. Trust isn’t rebuilt overnight. We forgive--one memory at a time. The goal of forgiveness is reconciliation.

4. Forgiveness isn’t condoning wrong. By forgiving, we’re not saying the action was OK. It’s not. Nor does it let the wrong happen again. Forgiveness does not mean turning a criminal loose. When people hurt us accidentally, we excuse them; when they hurt us intentionally, we forgive. But we don’t minimize what was done to us.

5. Forgiveness isn’t losing. What do we win by holding onto the hurt and anger that accompany unforgiveness? When we don’t forgive we’re imprisoned by bitterness. To forgive is actually to win.

6. Forgiveness isn’t figuring out why we were hurt. When we’re the victims of what seems a senseless attack, we’d like to understand why anyone would want to do such a mean thing. We may never know their reasons, but that doesn’t release us from forgiving.

(These come thanks to Bob Leroe, Pastor of Cliftondale Congregational in Saugus, Ma.)

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