I wanted to do a few follow up posts on the subject of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a deeply needed practice in our world. When I encourage someone (or myself!) to forgive often I will hear reasons it is not an option. But, I find that the barriers come out of a misunderstanding of what forgiveness is and isn’t.
Let’s look at some things forgiveness is not so we can be free to forgive.
Forgiveness is NOT:
- A feeling that all is well.
- Pretending that we weren’t hurt.
- Saying the other person isn’t wrong – excusing behavior away.
- Necessarily restoring the relationship (reconciliation takes two.)
- Automatically confronting the person.
- Forgetting – there is not a requirement for trust again.
- Relieving the other person from their responsibility.
I think one of the greatest barriers to forgive is the concern that we will have to act like nothing happened. But, that is not forgiveness.
Tomorrow we’ll explore what forgiveness is so we can forgive and experience freedom!
What do you think are the biggest barriers to forgive?
Peter is one of Jesus’ students. He has seen Jesus in action and he has seen Jesus’ posture of mercy and service with his own eyes. He feels inspired to be more generous with forgiveness and so he thought he’d tell Jesus his radical thinking. (Maybe Jesus would be amazed at his growing mercy and generosity!)
Peter: “Jesus, I’ve been thinking about how often we should forgive someone. I know that the traditional view is to forgive someone three times. But, should we forgive seven times?” (Jesus is going to be impressed. Seven times. That is double what everyone else is saying plus one more. I am so generous and forgiving!)
Jesus: “Seven? No, try seventy times seven!”
Peter: “Oh… okay.” (I guess I wasn’t so generous with my forgiveness after all.)
Jesus (knowing what Peter was thinking): “I forgive you.”
They both laugh.
– Based on Matthew 18:21-22
Three strikes and you are out! Keeping track of forgiveness is tempting. Jesus challenges us with the notion that forgiveness is not scarce and should be applied generously. Maybe the question shouldn’t be: “How often we should forgive?” But rather, “How often do we want to be free?”
Who do I need to forgive today?
I like Neil Anderson’s formula for forgiveness:
“God, I choose to forgive _________, even though they _________, that made me feel _________. Bless them today.”
Set someone free today and discover that you are the one freed.