Remember when you were a kid, your mom telling you to say, "Sorry"?? Oh, I remember 'saying sorry' but like my children, I didn't really mean it!!
So, WHAT really is forgiveness anyhow??
Forgiveness is an abstract concept that takes some practice for most children to comprehend. Once a child understands it, it is another thing to want to forgive. It goes against our human nature but it isn't the way to freedom nor the way God intends for us to live with others peaceably.
There are many misconceptions about forgiveness. Seriously. You didn't think it was easy to forgive, did you??
There are SIX misconceptions concerning forgiveness:
(Forgiveness: How to Get Along With Everybody All the Time!) These points are so important in understanding forgiveness that I think it will be helpful to list them below. I have found the information in Harold Vaughn's book to have been integral.
- Forgiveness is not an emotion. How we feel about forgiving a person has nothing to do with the situation. Emotions are irrelevant to forgiveness. Jesus was physically tortured on the cross, yet he asked God to "forgive them." Forgiveness can be given despite of how we 'feel'.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting. Jesus is able to forget our sins but we are not able to forget. Forgetting is not forgiving. We might forget something a person did to offend us, yet, we never forgave them and the offense is still buried deep in our heart. It is humanly impossible to forget at will, only God can say, "I will forgive their iniquity,and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31;34) I wish that were true!! Forgetting has nothing to do with forgiving. Don't you wish?! "Time will not heal all hurts, but forgiveness is the doorway that puts you well on your way in the healing process. Once forgiveness is granted, recurring thoughts about the episode may, and proably will, return." (Harold Vaughn - p. 12). Once you have forgiven, the duration between remembering a situation will lengthen and you will know what to do when those thoughts come to your mind.
- Forgiveness is not shrugging off the offense. You cannot just let it slip off your back like water on a oily wet duck. Though that works for water, it won't work for you!! You can't sweep the offense under the carpet, instead you have to deal with it Biblically or it will adversely effect your life. "Forgiveness is far more than doing nothing." (Harold Vaughn - p. 12)
- Forgiveness is not asking God to forgive the person who hurt you. That is not forgiveness!! You have to forgive them yourself. When Jesus prayed to God to forgive others, he prayed without malice in his heart. Just like the crucifiction was "the cup" that Jesus had to drink, so is our situation "our cup', something that we must go through or endure for Christ's sake. When we pray to forgive others we ought to have an honest heart of concern for that person as Jesus did towards those who offended him.
- Forgiveness is not asking God to forgive you for being hurt or angry. When someone offends me it is so important that I forgive that person. I need to take responsibility for my attitudes and actions. I must deal with God about my resentment, but also with the person who hurt me. (p. 13 - Harold Vaughn)
- Forgiveness is not rationalizing or understanding why the person acted toward you as he did. I don't know about you, but when something 'happens' to me or I have a situation with another person, I am a master at analyzing and over-analyzing the issue. Call it what you will, but I call it the 'paralysis of analysis!!' It can do just that to me!! Why the person did what they did to me is irrelevant. It doesn't matter how much I want my husband or another person to understand me and my hurt. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. Nothing. Understanding the reasons why a person did something to me is not necessary. It has nothing. Nothing to do with anything. It is not forgiveness.
It seems that no matter how many times I learn what the Bible says about forgiveness, I can walk away from what I am taught and forget. I don't want to be a forgetful hearer. I want to study forgiveness out until I remember what I am supposed to do without looking.
I cannot live in the freedom and liberty of the Spirit if I harbor unforgiveness in my heart. Neither can you. This book on Forgiveness by Harold Vaughn is invaluable and I think it is important that I share it with you as time allows. I hope you purchase it as there is more in the book than I can possibly share.
What, then, is forgiveness? Do you have a better understanding of forgiveness??
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