What it isn’t: Before we understand what forgiveness is, we must first understand what it isn’t, since there are many misconceptions about what it actually is:
Forgiveness is NOT excusing: -It is not saying what the offender did to you (or someone you care about) is OK. The very act of forgiveness necessitates that a wrong was done and has to be “paid for” by someone. But it does not require reconciliation or trusting the offender again. These things, at least in my estimation, must be earned.
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting: We can forgive someone, but not forget what they did to us. In fact, if a deep wrong has been committed against you or someone you care about, how can you not forget?
Forgiveness is NOT a feeling: We don’t have to wait till we feel like forgiving to forgive. It is an act of the will, and cannot be forced upon by anyone. That is, you cannot force someone else to forgive! It has to be initiated by the one being offended him/her self. But if we wait until we completely feel like forgiving, we will probably never reach the point where we will truly forgive, and be more likely angrier and more bitter than ever! I also believe that forgiveness is an act of obedience to God, and it’s something you do both for you and for God.
What forgiveness is:
It is letting go: You can’t forgive someone and be bitter and angry at them at the same time.
It is choosing not to hold hurt and anger against the offender anymore: It is choosing to let God mete out justice against the offender, and not you.You are willing to pray for them and/or wish good things for them and their life. It is an act of trust on your part to God. You are trusting God to help the offender repent and make amends for the wrong done to you in whatever way or manner He deems right and necessary, not a mite more or less.
It is choosing to not hold yourself prisoner to the hatred and anger that you are entitled to for a wrong committed against you: Often when we refuse to forgive someone it is because we want to punish the offender for what they did to us and not let them off easily. However, when we don’t forgive, we let anger, hatred, and bitterness reside in our hearts, negatively affecting us and our relationships, not theirs.
It is an act of grace: When we choose to forgive, we are most like God. I believe this is so because it says in Romans 5:8: When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God gave up His son (I believe) for those who don’t even acknowledge Him or who hate(d) Him! If you are a Christian today, and God did that for you, who are we not to extend that same grace to someone else?
Story behind this post:
I had anger and bitterness in my heart for someone recently, and these feelings weren’t doing anyone any good, especially for my relationships with God and others who didn’t really offend me. I wanted to spend time with God, but was not able to spend much quality time because of this sin (i.e…moral wrongdoing) in my heart. So, I asked a friend of mine for advice. She helped me understand what forgiveness is better and reminded me of how much Jesus forgave me for my sins. Then, I went to church and learned more about forgiveness and worship there. It is then that I decided, with the help of many praying friends (you know who you are), to forgive this person. I started praying for this person blessings upon their life. I sent them an encouraging note. And I realized that when I did these things that a.) The person wasn’t as bad as I had made them out to be. b.) That I was so much happier and freer to love others, because this weight of bitterness and anger was lifted off me. So, if this person ever reads this (you know who you are), I forgive you and I hope you will forgive me too for holding anger and bitterness in my heart towards you.