True or False?
- A person should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
- Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was caused.
- Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
- You haven't really forgiven others until you have forgotten the offense.
All of the above statements are false.
Forgiveness is one of the most difficult lessons we, as Christians, have to learn. Part of the reason for that is because we don't always have the correct perspective about what it actually means to forgive someone who has hurt us, as demonstrated in the above questions. Once we gain and embrace a right perspective of forgiveness, then we can begin to make some progress in actually applying it.
One day after I had broken up another battle between my little grand-daughters and had sent them each to their own corners until the heat died down, we came back together to discuss the matter. Each of them recounted what had happened from their own perspective. I don't recall all of the details of the battle but it was very clear that one had wronged the other and left her hurting. The one who had committed the offense admitted her wrong and apologized for it. The one who had been wronged then said in response "It's okay." This was the typical scenario after a battle as it probably is in your home too, but this time it stopped me dead in my tracks.
It hit me that one of the obstacles I have to overcome when trying to forgive someone who has done me wrong, is the idea that forgiveness means minimizing the offense and the pain that it caused. It's like saying "It's okay to hurt me." That is a distorted view of forgiveness. It's not okay when someone hurts us. So here I was teaching my grand-daughters that it was okay. I stopped them right then and explained that it is was not okay, but God wants us to forgive so we will choose to forgive even though we are hurt. Instead of saying "it's okay" we now say "I forgive you."
I have had to apologize to one of them since then and I can tell you it's far more humbling when you apologize to someone and they respond with "I forgive you" than with "it's okay". Especially when those words come from the mouth of a child. I pray that this will help keep them from developing this distorted view of forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38