ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« Ambulance Chasers | Main | Why Didn’t You Wake Me Up? »

Assumptions of Forgiveness

waynekramerrappic1.jpg“I thought you were going to forgive me. How much longer are you going to hold this over my head? How can you love God when you can’t even let me get past this. Some Christian you are.”

Most of us have heard these stinging statements at some point in our lives. Often, they throw us into gut-wrenching, soul-searching convulsions. Self-doubt and feelings of guilt overwhelm us because we wonder whether or not the charge is true. Are we so callused, so bitter, so deeply offended that we refuse to truly forgive? Don’t we have a genuine experience with God? Don’t we understand Calvary ? On and on, the questions go. Meanwhile, the person who transgressed in the first place succeeds in deferring the blame once again to the innocent. Instead of the victims reaping sympathy over the initial hurt, some accuse them of becoming nasty hypocrites. Something is wrong with this picture.

Forgiveness can be far more complicated than most people expect it to be. The way it actually works differs greatly from some popular assumptions we hold. Some of these assumptions are either categorically or partially untrue. For example, the following beliefs about forgiveness demonstrate how many people have distorted it:

  • Forgive and forget.
  • If you don’t trust me, you haven’t forgiven me.
  • You are obligated to forgive me.
  • If you don’t overlook my repeated offenses, you haven’t forgiven me.
  • You must forgive me whether or not I ever make things right.
  • You must forgive me even if I don’t ask for it.

Granted, forgiveness can be a daunting challenge. The depth of the hurt, the way an offense came about, the person who did the wrong and the person against whom the deed was done may all make forgiveness a torturous experience. Yet, we know it must be done. We cannot dismiss the scriptural teaching we find in Matthew 6:12. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Those who must forgive may struggle for years to completely accomplish the task. That becomes a matter for them to deal with in the eyes of God. What is often overlooked, however, is the behavior of the offending party in the equation. How should the person act who needs forgiveness?

It is a distortion of truth to taunt people about their obligation to forgive. Forgiveness was never meant to become a weapon in the hands of a person who demands it. Its purpose is to provide a viable avenue for restoration, not a way to turn justice inside out. Its intent is to give someone a chance make amends. Those who need forgiveness must keep several definite principles in mind.

Never minimize your transgression. You add insult to injury when you casually dismiss your wrongdoing as an insignificant mistake. Do not make excuses such as, “I’m only human,” or “I suppose you’re perfect.” Never blame others, or laugh off the thing you’ve done. Never belittle the offended person for being too sensitive or too petty.

Keep a humble attitude. Always remember that forgiveness indicates graciousness on the part of the offended person. Never display an arrogant or “entitlement” attitude, as though you are doing them a favor by allowing them to forgive you. Forgiveness may indeed be a divine requirement, but you are not personally responsible to enforce it.

Expect certain changes. Offending parties need to understand that relationships may well end as the result of a problem. Depending on the details of the situation, you may not continue on in a job, or you may have to make other drastic changes in your life. In fact, the person who committed the wrongdoing should volunteer to make these changes, rather than make the innocent person change his or her life.

Make a real attempt at restoration. Forgiveness does not exempt one from punishment. Sincere apologies, restitution for damages or losses, and compliance with any other reasonable request to make up for the wrongdoing are all in order. The depth of a person’s repentance can be measured by the extent of follow-up on restitution and restoration.

Live so that the offended party will forget. Do you really want all to be forgotten? Show such a turnaround in your behavior and attitude that the person you hurt will grow to love you. Be so grateful for a second chance that you will virtually erase the memory of the sin.

Many of us are far too cognizant of what we think is owed to us, rather than what we owe to others. Always keep in mind that, while all of us need forgiveness, none of us deserve it. The moment we start acting like we deserve it is the very moment we are likely to lose it.

Never minimize your transgression.

Keep a humble attitude.

Expect certain changes.

Make a real attempt at restoration.

Live so that the offended party will forget.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>