Is Forgiveness the “F” Word?

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For many, forgiveness is a dirty word.
It may conger up memories of forced apologies or asking forgiveness because
someone twisted your arm behind your back and asking forgiveness was the only
way to stop the pain. There is usually a very good historical reason for
feeling the way we do about forgiveness. However, God does not coerce. He is
all about relationship. He wants us to understand the consequences of our
choices, but does not twist our arm until we choose to live life His way.
What
does the word mean? Sometimes it helps to look at what a word is NOT before we
can wrap our minds around what it is. We
must have a proper understanding of forgiveness if we hope to be free and
whole.

Forgiveness is not saying what happened to you was right, that it did
not hurt, or that it does not matter.
Truth is, the hurt/abuse/neglect was
not right, it did hurt, and it does matter. Forgiveness is not making excuses
or letting people off easy. Criticism, undercutting, minimizing are not all
right, it does hurt and it does matter to God and to you. Forgiveness is
recognizing that the hurt, trouble, and anguish is bigger than you are and that you
cannot cope with the accumulation of hurt and burdens on your own. To forgive is
to release that accumulation to the Lord for Him to do with according to His
own discretion. It is an invitation for the Lord to free and heal “me.” It is
giving Jesus the responsibility to determine justice for those who hurt you.
Forgiveness does not let someone off the hook—it puts the offender on Jesus’
hook.

You do not need to forgive and forget. Psalm 103:12 does say that
God forgives and removes your sins from you as far as the east is from the west.
It does say that God remembers your sins no more and does not hold them against
you. I have not found any Scripture that says that you have to forgive and then
forget about it and act as if nothing happened when you were hurt. God can
afford to forget. When God forgets, He does not literally lose all conscious
awareness of the offence, no! Forgetting is not amnesia; for if it was, there
would be no record in Scripture of any specific sin that had been committed,
then forgiven. God “forgets” in the sense of dismissing the case from court. A
record of the offense remains, but it does not affect your life.

God can forget and still be
appropriate because He has boundless wisdom. You and I do not. We need to learn
from what happens to us. If you have no conscious recollection of everything
you forgive, where would the learning be? You would go out and be hurt again!
You are to forgive and remember. When you remember, you will not again walk
into hurtful situations with your heart wide open. You forget only in the sense
that God does, you dismiss it from court—in the court of your heart you hand
the person over to God, allowing Him to hold the person accountable.

Forgiving someone does not mean you have to
immediately trust the person.
First Peter 2:17 says that you should “respect
everyone.” No exceptions. But, nowhere does the Scripture say you should “trust
all men.” Even Jesus did not entrust himself to men, for He knew what was in
the hearts of men (John 2:24). And He said to not throw pearls before swine
(Matt. 7:6). When David sneaked through camp and stole Saul’s spear and water
jug, Saul apologized and asked him to come back to Jerusalem, but David did not
go back to Jerusalem, for he knew Saul’s heart would not retain his momentary
repentance (I Samuel 24). Time proved David correct.

You can forgive
a person who is not trustworthy because you
want to be untangled; you need to be free to heal. If a parent (or other
significant person) is a buzz saw that cuts you to pieces, forgive them for the
hurt so you can go on with life, but you do not have to act as if nothing
happened. No one knowingly walks back into the path of a buzz saw! It is
possible to honor a parent or a person by respecting them, but at the same time
give a wide enough berth to prevent new hurt from happening.

You respect your
parents and others when you treat them the way you want to be treated. You can
think for yourself; you can make your own choices, be responsible for your own
thoughts and attitudes, responsibilities, and burdens as well as your own
speech, deceptions, denials, blame or tempers. You respect your parents and
others when you ask or entreat them to be responsible for those same things. Trust and respect (honor) are not the same.

After
confession and forgiveness, you have room in your heart and spirit for the
Lord’s love for the one you forgave. You will be more able to see the person
through God’s eyes of love rather than through the filter of hurt and
resentment, but this does not necessarily come quickly.

A young man
came to my husband for prayer ministry with such an active hatred for his
father that he wanted him dead, and said as much. After he confessed and
repented of the hatred, and asked forgiveness for it, in a vision he saw the
Lord standing over his father with sword raised to strike the man down. In
alarm he cried, “No, Lord!” The Lord replied, “But you said you wanted him
dead.” The confession, repentance, and forgiveness cleaned the wound. Then the
son could see his father more clearly. Love flooded forward, and he interceded
on his father’s behalf. This story indicated to me that God agreed with the
son’s assessment that his father’s behavior was unacceptable. But the son went
on to hate, whereas, God’s heart was forgiveness, not vengeance.  God knew the young man’s heart, and to help him
come to a place of repentance and forgiveness He showed him what the
consequences of that hatred would look like. The son’s error was not in the
assessment, but in the hatred.

This is an
excerpt from The Mystery of Spiritual
Sensitivity
, chapter 11, Bringing
Healing
. If you would like to know more about this book you may visit my
website:
www.fromgodsheart.com or want to purchase the book it is available from the website, or Amazon.com
Action Step: This week take a few minutes to think about someone you have a hard time forgiving and see if it is because of a misconception of what forgiveness actually is. True forgiveness is not necessarily easy, and people who are highly sensitive feel hurt more keenly; the wound goes deeper. Ask for Jesus perspective on the issue.
 
Blessings, Carol…making it plain
Author of The
Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive
www.fromgodsheart.com