Forgiveness is not a feeling…
Forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s an action. It’s the act of dismissing your demand that you’re owed something by this person. Last week I talked about Biblical forgiveness and how we as Christian’s ought to forgive,
Today, I want to talk about some of the misconceptions around forgiveness, primarily that it’s not a feeling. We tend to be driven by feelings when we have to decide whether or not we are going to choose forgiveness. But it is the thought/decision that’s informed by the Word of God that we must follow.
Forgiveness is not a license to sin.
Many people think that if they forgive someone it means that they condone their behavior. This is incorrect and nothing could be further from the truth.
Forgiveness is not approving or excusing sin.
No one gets away with sin. A distorted view of biblical forgiveness will lead one to think that sin is escapable. Jesus was crucified for this. Sin is a big deal to God. Approving or minimizing the importance of sin dishonors the work of the cross which leads to our forgiveness. We must look at sin the way God does. Forgiveness is not excusing sin
Forgiveness is not automatic.
First of all, forgiveness requires intentionality. It requires one to be determined. A person cannot be saying one thing with their mouth and yet do something different. Forgiveness requires focus and guidance from the word of God
Don’t drink the poison!
Unforgiveness is like poison. Maybe you’ve heard the quote:
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.”Marianne Williamson
This is true for all of us. Whenever we allow unforgiveness to live in our hearts, we are the ones who end up hurting.
Forgiveness is not stuffing your anger.
Forgiveness begins when you decide to release your anger by surrendering the offense to God.
You’ve been hurt
In the busyness of your life and your schedule, you can’t act as if nothing happened. You can’t deny that you were sinned against. There’s no need to deny the wrongdoing. Listen, I hear pastors all the time casually say ‘that didn’t affect me, I can’t be offended ’ yes you could choose not to be offended but do take the time to understand what was said or done. Acknowledge the wrongdoing, deal with it and forgive.Forgiveness begins when you decide to release your anger by surrendering the offense to God. Click To Tweet
A perfect example of not stuffing anger is found in the Book of Luke.
Jesus obeyed the will of God and clearly expressed what needed to be said.
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.Luke 23:34 King James Version (KJV)
Look, they had spat in his face. they had struck him, whipped him and humiliated him. Jesus felt the emotional, spiritual and physical pain and He uttered those words. “Forgive them”. Ministry leaders do not need to suffer in silence. Things must be discussed. Those conversations are all a part of the healing and forgiveness process and should never be overlooked.
Advice From The Doctors
The medical profession has been clear and no one is exempt from this; holding on to anger, bitterness, hate, and dislike is like trying to tame a baby demon. Listen, you might think it’s small now and can’t hurt you, but it’s still a demon. One day, that demon will lead to your destruction.
Anxiety and depression have led to a rising number of Pastors committing suicide each year. Arthritis, Diabetes-type 2, Kidney failure, hypertension have all been linked to the way we live our lives.
Men and women of God, Please, do not stuff anger.
Do not try to push the anger deep down and pretend it’s not there. This is a recipe for disaster. Just because the pain and anger are hidden, doesn’t mean that it’s not affecting you and those around you.
Stop wasting time waiting for an apology
Forgiveness is not waiting for an apology.
Waiting for an apology is setting conditions for forgiveness and that’s not biblical. Forgiveness, just like love, is unconditional. It’s a mandate from God to all people. If you’re waiting to hear an apology you have to know that you might never get one. Some people are going to refuse to say it, some move away to a different place never to be seen again and some die before saying sorry. God never said you have to wait for an apology. It’s nice to have one, but in terms of biblical forgiveness, it’s not necessary. All must forgive whether sorry has been said or not.
Forgiveness is supernatural
Forgiveness is not our natural response
It’s a supernatural response empowered by God. The type of response in forgiveness is one that only God can give you. One that will make you Christ-like. This is why we hear people say that forgiveness is tough. They’re absolutely right and that’s because it’s not our natural response.
When we’re in pain, we usually go into fight or flight mode. We want to retaliate or we want to get away. That’s totally normal and it keeps us alive in dangerous situations. But, what do we do once we’re safe?
The problem is, a lot of people want to keep fighting, stay angry, keep hating, and we put up walls around us. With all those walls, it’s impossible for God to use us as the Body of Christ to touch other people with His love. This is why God wants us to forgive; so that we can be effective in the Kingdom of God.
Stop Trying To Forgive and Forget
Forgiveness is not forgetting.
Take note of this; Christians all over the world say forgive and forget, but this concept is not found in the bible. We do not forget. We can’t. And, it’s an unfair expectation.
Here’s the thing, many people have been taught that we’re supposed to forgive and forget based off of a passage in Hebrews 8:12
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”Hebrews 8:12 KJV
In this passage, it appears that God will forget our sins. But is this true? Are we suppose to take it literally?
No, not at all.
First of all, God is omniscient. That means he knows everything!
How can a God who knows everything forget?
God remembers our sins. He just chooses to deal with us without bringing our sins in front of Him. God chooses to interact with us based on what Christ has done not what we have done. He is all knowing and All-Loving! We are made in His image. We don’t forget things, especially important events whether positive or negative. So if you’re struggling to forget about your past, don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re not doing anything wrong.
Our churches are filled with people who have been cheated, lied to, molested, beaten, abused, abandoned and have lost relatives to murder and war. They can’t just forget and move on. To hold onto this kind of expectation is cruel and unfair. Unless they get a head injury and their memory is wiped out, they’re going to remember. We don’t forget. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work through those memories and the pain and move on.
Wasting time by watching time
Forgiveness is not waiting for time to heal our wounds
I know you’ve probably heard someone say that time heals all wounds, or just give it time. But here’s the truth, time does not hold any inherent healing properties. Time just passes. it does not heal wounds.
It is the ploy of the enemy to teach that time is capable of doing our work for us. The enemy wants us to constantly look at the time and then our wounds and continue to cry. There is no need to look at our wounds. Time heals nothing. It’s what we do with our time that makes a difference.
Forgiveness is not a one-time event.
It’s not like you forgive someone and its done. There may be times the thought comes back and one has to deliberately choose a different thought. You have to acknowledge the thought and the feeling that comes along with it. This is a crucial point because it’s very important to recognize the thought coming back and then deliberately choose the thought prescribed by the word of God. Forgive as God forgave you. Forgive again. It does not mean you did not forgive in the first instance. If you did it according to the word of God, remember these are just thoughts. Choose forgiveness again.
It’s Not Fair
Forgiveness isn’t based on what is fair.
People get stuck on this one. The question to ask is this; was it fair for Jesus to hang on the cross so that you and I could be forgiven for the sins that we committed? or the ones you’re still committing? No, of course not. That wasn’t fair, but Jesus endured an unfair crucifixion so that you and I can receive total forgiveness.
Forgive and Call The Cops.
Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.
You can forgive someone and still call the police. There are consequences of the law of the land and they have to be observed. If someone has broken into the church and stolen the offering or the media equipment and you catch them, forgive them, but you still have to call the police.
Forgiveness and justice can be applied at the same time. A lot of the people lose heart in coming to church and the reason they point to is the failure of ministers and pastors to apply justice. In situations where someone has done something illegal, whether it’s a close friend or church memeber, justice still needs to be applied equally to all.
Failure to do so results in church elders, pastors, and ministers playing games of favoritism. I have heard some people in ministry say that you do not need to call the police. They mumble a justification basing their argument on grace. You cant cover up a sin
Listen, if a gunman walks in the church you, Please, DO NOT call the elders of the church. Call the police!
As shepherds, we have an obligation to defend our flock from violence, abuse, neglect, and undue suffering. We need to work with those who have the power and legal authority in order to protect those who have been entrusted to us.
Don’t be gullable
Forgiveness is not trusting.
Trust is built slowly and lost quickly. Some people who have broken trust can regain it in time, but only if they prove through the fruit of their life and the actions they take that they are truly walking in repentance. And this is only possible after they have gotten help and are committed to making better choices. Some people should not be trusted at all because the risk involved in trusting them are too high.
Forgiveness is not explaining the hurt away.
It’s not correct to say “I just told someone about it and I am now okay”. That’s a good start, but, it is just the beginning of the process. Apply the word of God, confess your pain, acknowledge the hurt and choose to forgive.
You don’t have to be friends
Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
It takes one person to recognize the wrong, repent, be forgiven and move on. Just one person, that’s all it takes for forgiveness to happen. But, it takes two people to reconcile. Reconciliation is the act of settling or restoring differences. The relationship itself may not be salvaged but the spirit of reconciliation will reflect the heart of God. You don’t have to live together. You don’t have to get back into a destructive relationship.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyoneRomans 12:18 (NLT)
Pastors and ministry leaders are sometimes aware of the importance of forgiveness but they don’t know how to teach it, give it or receive it. Some do not know how crucial forgiveness is.
Not fully forgiving is as good as not forgiving at all. If forgiveness is only given based on a set of conditions or expectations, it’s not really forgiveness. Choosing unforgiveness misses the mark set by God completely. If we won’t receive forgiveness, that decision leads to a life of bitterness. When we fail to teach forgiveness and set an example by choosing it in our own lives, the result is a congregation full of bitterness, anger, and hate. Churches inevitably become smaller as people choose to protect themselves over taking an interest in the things of God.
For Ministry Leaders
As ministry leaders, we must always explain both what forgiveness is and what it’s not. It’s not excusing sin. It’s not circumventing God’s justice. Making these distinctions and clearing up the many misconceptions around forgiveness is a crucial part of the ministry work God has given us.
This is one of the biggest issues holding back those who are sitting at home and refusing to come back to church. They don’t understand what forgiveness really is. And that lack of knowledge is killing the spirit within them.
Forgiveness is allowing God to carry out His justice in His own way in His own time. Someone once said forgiveness is not letting the guilty off the hook. It is moving the guilty from your hook to God’s hook.
A classic example of forgiveness in action is found in John 8:3-11. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought Jesus a woman they had caught in adultery. They wanted to stone her.
Jesus decided not to stone her. In His own time as the creator, He made His decision. The decision to forgive her. In real time. He did not excuse her. He told her to go and sin no more.
Forgiveness is a thought. A Decision made in your mind.
Forgiveness is not a feeling.
Forgiveness is based on the fact that all of us are called by God to forgive. We tend to think of forgiveness as an emotion but it is, in fact, an act of the will. We choose to forgive. There will always be feelings, emotions, and thoughts that may seem to be better than just forgiving someone-just like that, just as if they have not sinned. Let us be reminded that God has given us a prescription for dealing with forgiveness. King Solomon reminds us of this in his proverbs:
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,Proverbs 14:12
But its end is the way of death.
I hope that you now understand the fundamental differences between what forgiveness is and isn’t. There are many inaccurate concepts about what forgiveness is and how to go about it, that are doing damage to the body of Christ. By clarifying these misconceptions, I hope to have encouraged and enabled you to go and share this wisdom with your flock and do some of the real healing work that is long overdue.
If you or someone you know is dealing with unforgiveness and they would like advanced professional help, please consider taking the next step and booking a free coaching call.
As a Chrisitan Life Coach, I specialize in helping others go through the process of forgiveness so that they can enjoy true freedom in their life once more. Without all the pain, anger and bitterness.
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