Forgiving Others: Misconceptions, Hang-Ups, Stumbling Blocks

Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13

This scripture paints the picture of what we should do for those who have offended us --- "What Christ Has Done For Us, Pass It On."

"After what they have done to me; they don't deserve to be forgiven," is the cry of many people.

I was there at one point in my life. You see, I had my own ideas about what forgiving others meant. None were biblically based --- they were what they were:  misconceptions, hang-ups, and stumbling blocks that were delaying my healing. The following is a few misconceptions I have had to re-learn over the years. It is my prayer they will be of value to you in the healing process.

1. Forgiveness Does Not Mean Forgetting

The mind is not like the delete key on a computer that allows us to delete everything in it. We will always remember it historically, but the emotional part of the hurt starts leaving when we let go of bitterness.

2. Forgiveness is Not Ceasing to Feel the Pain

Choosing to forgive does not cause the pain to magically disappear overnight. Healing emotionally takes place over time, but it is what you do with time that really leads to the healing.

3. Forgiveness Does Not Always Mean Reconciliation

Sometimes people think they have to get back into the relationship and be reconciled when they forgive.  Not true. Reconciliation is a two-way street and both parties must be willing to reconcile.  Another reason reconciliation may not be possible are the elements that make up a relationship, such as honor and respect toward one another; trust must be re-established. If any of these elements are missing, then the relationship has been broken, and REPENTANCE (Change) should take place before the relationship is reconciled.  We must give people mercy and forgive them, but it must be joined with a repentant heart before reconciliation takes place.  Reconciliation is never meant to be cheap grace.

4. Forgiveness is Not a Green Light for Trusting

Perhaps you heard stories like these:  "My dad molested me.  He said he's sorry.  Can he babysit my kids?"  "My boyfriend hit me, but he apologized.  Can we pick up where we left off?"  "Absolutely not!"  Some people can and should be trusted in time if they have repented and gotten help.  Other people should never be trusted again because the risk is simply too high.  This is particularly true with children who are vulnerable.  We need to be exceedingly careful with whom we trust.

5. Forgiving is Not Enabling

In 1 Samuel 2:27-29, we read the story of how Eli, the head priest at the Tabernacle, looked the other way as his sons sinned against the Lord.  Though he confronted them, he continued to allow them to serve as priests, thereby enabling his sons to continue in their sins.   We can forgive someone without enabling sin.

6. Forgiveness and Final Justice

If a person remains unrepentant, forgiving them does not mean they are off the hook by our Lord.  If they live in a state of unrepentance, and they don't come to Jesus for forgiveness, they will stand before Jesus in the end, paying their eternal debt to the living God.  So, in forgiving someone, we are not neglecting justice.  We're leaving it to the perfect judge to enact perfect justice.  And we forgive in light of that.

Food for thought:

  • Did our Savior wait until we were perfected before He forgave us?
  • Did He pick and choose which sins He would forgive, or did He forgive them all?
  • It appears that:  "Our ability to extend mercy and forgiveness to others is directly related to the degree by which we recognize that our own debt of sin has been totally canceled."

"What Christ has done for us, Pass it on!"


(Other misconceptions I had can be found here.)

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CW Writer Lynn Marie Cherry, Author has published her first book:

~ Keep Walking, 
40 Days to Hope and Freedom after Betrayal ~

Join us at Cotone Clothing + Beauty Bar
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