Forgiveness Isn’t an Option

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Life Change, My Faith

Just thinking about that word strikes fear in a lot of people. However, I think many people don’t know what giving true forgiveness feels like and some have a hard time receiving it. Lately I have seen this a lot in my own personal life and those around me. It’s amazing to see people look at their life and the things that have happened to them or caused by them and then pass it off like their responsibility is over when whatever was done is over. That isn’t true, because even if we were the one that was hurt, we now have a new responsibility to truly forgive – Matthew 6:14-15. The problem is what I see over and over is people who feel like they have truly forgiven the one that has caused them pain and hurt and end up justifying their actions and attitude because of it. So as I was reading and praying the other day I wrote down 5 signs that help us determine if we still may have an attitude of bitterness or unforgiveness:

1. We keep trying to convince ourselves we are the victim.

People are going to let you down. It’s part of the fallen world that we live in. Not only that, there will be a time in your life that you will let someone else down. That’s why Jesus was so emphatic with Peter when Peter asked the question we all wonder at some point in our life. “How many times should we forgive someone?” I love Jesus’ answer in Matthew 18:21-23. He says seventy times seven, which basically means as many times as it takes… He knows people will let you down more than once.

2. Instead of praying for the person that caused us pain and for their reconciliation, we concentrate our prayers on the healing of our own hurt and pain they caused us.

I’m not saying you won’t have deep hurt and sorrow caused by someone, but if we focus our healing and prayers on them, then in the process God will heal us as well. I love what Lewis B. Smede said: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” I John 2:9-11

3. We buy into rumors and lies about the person that hurt us, and pass it along like it’s the truth.

This is one that a lot of people can’t see happen in their life. They are so concentrated on getting revenge they will listen to whatever rumors, true or false, and want to get that message out to whomever has an open ear to listen to them. I’m not saying that sometimes it’s not the truth, but as a Christian, we don’t have an option. We don’t have the right to say anything that is going to tear down and corrupt another person. Ephesians 4:29

4. Instead of comparing ourself to Christ, we compare ourself to the person who hurt us the most.

I wish people could see how harmful this is. From the moment they get hurt by someone deeply, that is the person they use from then on to justify their own actions. It becomes easy to develop the attitude that as long as I don’t do anything to anyone as bad as that person did to me, then I must be OK in the eyes of God. Saying it like that it becomes easy to deny, but many times our actions back up that type of attitude. The only thing we can compare to is Christ and who He is. Nothing comes even close. Philippians 3:8

5. It causes us to take our eyes off the Cross.

You know one thing I can’t figure out is how anyone that claims grace can turn around and not offer it back to those that hurt them. I know there is a healing process and that it takes time to get back to that point, but what happens so often among even Christians is they don’t want to heal, or forgive, or give grace in return. That is such a dangerous place to be. We don’t earn God’s forgiveness, He gives it to us, that’s why it’s called grace. Just as quick as He is to give it to us, we need to be quick to extend it to others as well. The only thing we can boast in as a Christian is the cross. Galatians 6:14

I know there are a lot of people who have been hurt deeply, and it’s my prayer for you that God will continue to show things in your life that may need to be dealt with in regards to these things or maybe some others. Whatever it may be, know that by you offering and extending forgiveness to others, it gives you the freedom to hold onto Christ and rely on Him in all things. Trust me… there is no place you would rather be.

  1. allergyfree says:

    That’s really good. I love β€œTo forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” That’s good stuff! Love you, Bro! You are a wise man.

  2. julie ryan says:

    This is great. Extremely insightful.

  3. Rebekah says:

    Great words, Dave. This is almost the exact conversation I had with a girl that I disciple last night. Except…I didn’t say it as well. πŸ™‚

    One of the hardest lessons I ever learned was that in Matt. 5:44 to love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you. I remember hearing that from my Dad when I was in the 7th or 8th grade and it’s a hard. lesson. But it’s one we must learn. I think that’s kind of wrapped up in forgiveness too. Here I am almost half my life later and I’m still not great at it, but I’m better than I was.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. karlee says:

    Hey Dave, I’m a new reader:) A similar message has been on my heart lately. Great post.

  5. Stacoe says:

    WOW! I really needed that! thanks bunches!

  6. Stacie says:

    Wow! thanks bunches! I really needed that!

  7. Renee Stanford says:

    Dave, I agree so much. I have struggled for months with forgiveness with a family member. For some time the Lord has put it in my heart that I must at least attempt to resolve things with him. I tried to do that this week and at least I can say I tried. I finally feel at peace. Sure, I still do have hurt, but forgiving him and asking him to forgive me was the best decision I ever made. Thank you for sharing this.. The timing was perfect.

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