True Meaning of Forgiveness

Good morning making space for God friends! As I sit here at my computer my heart is thinking about each of you who are dealing with unforgiveness. Yes, you have tried to forgive. You have even been generous to the person to whom you are offering forgiveness, however the sting in your heart is still there when you think of him or her. It could be that your perception of forgiveness is faulty or that you forgive with your lips but on the inside you are standing up (if you know what I mean- outward motions, inward struggle).

My friend sent me a devotional by Charles Stanley the other day that was very helpful in unpacking just what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.

Forgiveness can be defined as letting go of both resentment and the right to return the hurt. On the other hand, unforgiveness demands that the guilty pay for the wrong he or she did. 

So here is the key question to ask if you have forgiven someone: ” Do you still long for them to pay for the wrong he or she did?” There are times friends, that I say: ” I forgive you” but I don’t let the person off the hook. I can tell because I keep hoping that…

  • Someone will tell this person that they are wrong.
  • Hoping it  will happen again to someone else and then I will be justified in commiserating with the person who was also hurt. (commiserating is another word for gossip).
  • When I think about the person who offended me, I imagine ways that I can set him right.

Let’s be transparent about this. We all fall into this at times– when we have forgiven but this thing still just isn’t right. Chances are the other person has forgotten about what they have done. But we haven’t. This is the time to seek the Lord to go to the level of true forgiveness where we let this person off the hook. Now let me be sure you understand. If someone has wronged you and action is needed step out and take the action. Do not think that it’s the Christian thing to do to forgive and let them get away with having done something harmful. And it also may be necessary to separate yourself from this person and that is ok and sometimes healthier. Additionally, reconciliation may never transpire.  If however physical and/or emotional abuse are not involved, we must let go of resentment and the right to return the hurt. We let them off the hook. Again, within the boundaries I have indicated.

Why is true forgiveness so difficult? Because we have not yet grabbed hold of the forgiveness Christ offers to us- forgiveness for our sins paid at the price of laying His life down for us. Grasping the cross and receiving His great love to forgive us, causes us to ask the question: ” If Jesus Christ did this for our offenses against him,  how can we deny forgiveness to our brother or sister?”

Friends, cling to the cross when you have been wronged. Hold on to the fact that Jesus holds his arms of forgiveness open to you each time you sin or miss the mark. His love for you spilled out from the cross and His love for you is the platform from which you reach out to those who have wronged you and no longer demand the guilty to pay for the wrong that they did.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on His right hand and the other on his left. Then Jesus said: ” Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:4)

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