Shed the Reasons! Forgiveness Series Part 3
Someone might say to you, "You don't need to forgive. You didn't do anything wrong, so just put it out of your mind and forget about it." As I see it, there are a couple of things wrong with this friendly advice. First, you won't be able to forget it happened until you forgive. Secondly, forgiveness will allow you to stop holding anything against the other person. If you are harboring hurt, resentment, or frustration toward someone, you are obligated to forgive that person in order to remain obedient and in the rightly aligned relationship with God.
Over the years I've had many conversations with many different types of people. I know dear friends who are quick to love and quick to forgive. They are so filled with the Holy Spirit and they always give good advice and are such a cleansing breath of fresh air. Then on the other hand, I spoken to others and I've heard so many reasons for refusing to forgive. Those reasons need to be put aside. Below are some of the reasons that people have tried to justify. Which, if any, category do you find yourself in? Read on.
1. "He/she doesn't deserve forgiveness."
Now, let's think about this reasoning for a second. If the tables were turned, would you deserve forgiveness? The truth is that nobody deserves forgiveness. All true forgiveness is a matter of undeserved mercy. No person can ever do anything to earn or win God's forgiveness. It's a free gift for anyone who chooses to believe in Jesus.
Even knowing this, you still may continue with this "they don't deserve it" mentality and think that the person who has hurt you should try to earn your forgiveness. Now, be careful with this thinking because honestly, that isn't likely to happen. Even if the person tried to win your forgiveness, there is no precise scale for determining how much groveling or apologizing the person should do. In most cases, the offender will not try to make amends or ask for forgiveness. Ultimately, forgiveness needs to be something you choose to give that person.
2. "If I don't hold on to the memory of what this person did, nobody will ever hold this person accountable for it." All I can say to this, is that this is between that person and God. It is not between this person and you. Or, this person, you, and all your friends. You know what happened between you and this other person. But better yet, God knows the truth. And He's all that really matters.
3. "I can't forgive until I hear an apology." You can hold on to this if you really wish to. However, you may be waiting for the rest of your life. Some people stand stubbornly firm that the offending party must make the first move toward reconciling a relationship. That my friends is just pride rearing it's ugly head. Genuine forgiveness does not have an prerequisites or make any demands on others. Love does not demand.
4. "If I forgive too easily, people will think I'm weak, or I will be a bad example to my family." Again, let's think about this. Why do you care what other people think?
You should only care what God thinks, and God commands you to forgive. Other "people" will never-ever be able to reward your faithful behavior of forgiving in the ways that God can. "Forgiving too easily" should not even be a thought.
5. "If I forgive, the person who hurt me will take advantage of me and go back to their old ways. They will never change because I've seen it over and over. It's just easier and more peaceful to be without them." Forgiveness doesn't make you weak or vulnerable. It makes you obedient to God's direction. That is a position of strength, not weakness. God does not call us to change people. First of all, people have to want to change. By you not forgiving them, that will just push them further away from their thoughts of God, because it will turn into thoughts of frustration and rejection over and over. If they indeed do want to change and try to work on their relationship with you, only God can bring fruit from this walk with Him. This fruit does not come from human actions, but is a gift from Him for your obedience.
6. "The person who hurt me isn't ready to receive my forgiveness." The other person does not have to be ready to receive forgiveness. Forgiveness happens in your heart and mind. Besides, it's not up to you or your opinion if they are ready or not. That is between them and God.
7. "I have partially forgiven what the person did to me, but there's no way I can forgive some things." There is no such thing as partial forgiveness. That is a pseudonym for the name of forgiveness. It's made up. It doesn't exist. If you are holding anything against your offender, you have not forgiven him or her. The thought of "partial forgiveness" is a little like saying you are "partially obedient to God." Lets just say it. Partial obedience is disobedience. Genuine forgiveness is all or nothing.
8. "I just don't feel like I'm in a place to where I can forgive." Why not? What are you possible gaining from not forgiving this person/s? Those thoughts are not coming from God, but from Satan. Satan doesn't want you to forgive. He wants you to be in bondage to this person and doesn't want those chains to be broken. By keeping you in bondage, it will keep your heart hardened and that is exactly where Satan wants you to stay. Meanwhile, you think you are doing God's will because on the outside you are a good person. You may even say "I'm praying for this person" and you very well may be, but inside you are broken and hardened. If you don't feel like forgiving right now, then you most likely never will. Your declaration to forgive should not be based on feelings. It should only be out of an act of obedience to our Father. There is absolutely nothing to gain from waiting to forgive.
9. "I tried to forgive, but I just couldn't." Well, try again. And again after that if need be. This time, ask God to help you to forgive and to let go of any hurt, anger, bitterness, or resentment. People who can't forgive may in fact need an act of God's deliverance. Ask the Lord to intervene and make your forgiveness lasting and endearing.
The bottom line here friends, is quit making excuses! Don't grow in a comfortable lifestyle of unforgiveness. You can make it a process to forgive, which I'll go over in my next post. But in order to make yourself whole again, you DO need to forgive.