Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, May 21, 2007

What is Forgiveness?

"I give up the right to hurt you for hurting me." A friend of mine said this to me as a means to show forgiveness. He said it was a definition for forgiveness. I thought it was good. Letting go. Some people would describe forgiveness that way. Not holding something against someone. Very good.

What about this situation:
You have a friend who really wrongs you. You go to him and you make it clear to him how much he hurt you. He won't budge. He does not see that he has done anything wrong, or he won't admit it. Years pass. When you think of this friend, you wish you had been able to come to peace with him. You still have an ache in your heart when you think of him. He hurt you and his subsequent lack of sorrow over the break in the friendship is a pain. Besides all that, you miss him!! His lack of willingness to recognize his fault in the matter is a real head scratcher and left a scar on your heart. He didn't want to see you anymore after he hurt you and you are not friends any longer. He is out of your life. This lack of peace with him haunts you.

Counselors tell you that you are holding bitterness against this brother. You need to forgive him.

What does forgiveness mean in this context? If the brother comes to you (or even if you go to him) and he recognizes that some of the problem (at least) was his fault and he is sorry, then it is easy to get - you NEED to forgive, you WANT to forgive! But ... when you have a person who is not sorry and doesn't want peace with you, how is forgiveness even possible?

Is forgiveness a one-way street?

I can hear the heads nodding.

I am not so sure.

I think of forgiveness as being a transaction of sorts. The forgiv-ee has to recieve it from the forgiv-er, no? Is it a complete transaction when you say "I forgive him" ... and he thinks YOU were the one in the wrong? What if you walked up to him (as some have suggested is vital to forgiving) and told him you forgive him? This would not "relieve his heart," but would be an offense.

So is forgiveness a one-way street?

I once heard that the only thing one can do in a situation like this is be ready to forgive. You have to let go of your anger at the person for having wronged you. Then, when the opportunity comes, you will be ready to forgive, you will forgive him and the process wil be complete. You will have forgiven him. Some people would say that this is restoration, but that the initial "letting go" of your own bitterness was the actual forgiveness.

What do you think? What do you see in the Bible that can help define these things for us?

12 Comments:

  • I can't believe no one has anything to say about this subject?! I am truly surprised. Maybe I need to post another "Questions Calvinists Ask" if I want to discuss anyhitng with anyone. Perhaps those people who say that controversy is the only way to get interaction on a blog are right. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/24/2007 9:32 AM  

  • Hi Rose. This article and beautiful word picture by Wendy Francisco helps isolate something for us I think as to what lay at the heart of it all. May you be encouraged by it here.... Freedom

    I hope your readers will be as blessed by the Francisco ministries as I am. We are all like the woman at the well thirsting For His communion and not content unless we stay there and when we do all will fall into place I believe as it is not flesh and blood but principalities and powers in high places that turn us one against another. May the Lord free us again from what is binding us and drawing us away from His blessed communion in tapping back into the vine and quenching our thirst there alone.

    By Blogger Only Look, at 5/24/2007 10:29 PM  

  • Rose: Forgiveness is a command. Forgive us our debts as we forgive. 7 times 70. I find that no matter how much I've been wronged, God gives me the grace to forgive--not so another will change, but so I will change. I think when we have been hurt by someone, we all face the inevitable scars that result in the wound. And the pain can easily be activated by another's actions or words that are totally unrelated to the original hurt.

    As with the indebted man who was forgiven beyond anyway of repaying, who then turned around and held another with a much lesser debt to account--we see Christ's view of holding onto a wrong we've been dealt. Our responsibility is to forgive--unconditionally--because we have been forgiven, don't you think?

    The friend who broke relationship because of unforgiveness may never have received the forgiveness offered. Although it was there...they chose to go on without it and the relationship they could have had as a result of accepting it. Much like our lost world, I think. I, too, am surprised no one has commented on this. selahV

    By Anonymous selahV, at 5/25/2007 7:58 AM  

  • Hi B.
    Thanks for that link.
    It is good to see you. I hope you are well.

    Selah,
    Thanks for that.
    I do think it is our responsibilty to forgive. Indeed. I guess I just feel dissapointed when there is no reconciliation. It causes an ache. Thanks for stoppping by!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/25/2007 5:41 PM  

  • Rose I believe SelahV hit it on the head. We are commanded to forgive, which tells me that the Spirit in us gives us the ability to do it. Also, our forgiveness frees us from the bitterness that often results from unforgiveness.
    But here is an interesting point. Does forgiveness mean that we act is if nothing ever happened? What if the offender has shown that theyu cannot be trusted. Should we go on trusting them anyway?
    But this makes me think of Peter! The Lord could surely have said that he could not be trusted & just let him go. But He used him to preach the Pentecost sermon! Boy, thjere sure is a lot to learn from this! Thanks for posting it!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 5/25/2007 6:36 PM  

  • If we forgive out of obligation and simply because we are commanded to do so then our forgiveness becomes legal. It should be our joy to forgive because we have filed bancruptcy at the cross and it is actually an opportunity to love Christ back with the love he loved us with. If we are forgiving out of duty then we are on the wrong paradigm. This is the heart of it of being freed by His power in understanding the canceled debt and allowing His Spirit to move in us. Legal forgiveness will be short lived.

    Hey Rose,

    Don't worry about not feeling reconciled. It is the power of God and not ours. There may be bounderies that God doesn't want us to cross.

    This will also be helpful in understanding how we are to love our wives and husbands. My bloggin time has been cut in half as well because at one time I thought God was wanting me to reconcile with all these blog people, but I learned that God was pressuring me out of forming intimaceys outside of what he wanted me to form at home and so I apologize if I ever came across to any of you as giving a cold shoulder and may have acted like this friend of yours from years ago and I know I was reactive in the past as well, but I am learning that he wants me to draw from a cistern at home and build on that joy, because if my homelife is not right and I am not meeting my wife and families need then I either need to restrict my blogging time or get out of it altogether, because that is where Satan attacks the most. The home and this blogisphere is opening a wormhole that may not be entirely godly nor healthy to the homelife. I have missed some of you out here, but I realize more and more that our intimacey must not be spilled very much outside of the family or the church. I once believed the blogs were a good opportunity to have these discussions that lead to intimate contact and greater understanding of ourselves but now I realize that it should only be in the family or in the immediate Church.

    Here is an article on the dangers of what is happening in the blogisphere and internet chat rooms and we all are succeptable to it if we try to make this blogisphere a well to draw from:

    The Truth About Emotional...

    If this may cause a feeling of despair for any then maybe it is a good sign that we may need to retire for a while from this as it may be a fix and may rather continue to make us bleed instead of heal. His grace however is sufficient for every trial.

    By Anonymous brian, at 5/27/2007 2:30 PM  

  • Hello Brian: If one only applies the command of forgiveness when forgiving, then it would be legalistic. However, one who simply forgives by writ is not forgiving, so more than being short lived--forgiveness was never given birth at all.

    Forgiveness is expected of us by a gracious Lord because of exactly what you say. "It should be our joy to forgive because we have filed bancruptcy at the cross and it is actually an opportunity to love Christ back with the love he loved us with."
    I think the operative word in your statement is "should". We all should have joy due to mercy delivered unto us. But we all must forgive.

    I read a book once on Reconciliation. Some relationships and situations can never be reconciled. One party is able but the other (for whatever place they are in on their spiritual journey) is unable. I think these are the times we trust God to do with the relationship what He would--including severance.

    I have had these happen to me and found my need for the relationship slipped into the place of my greater need for my First Love. When I recognized this, I found great joy in the new-found relationship I had in the Saviour Who fills every gap.

    Brian: Thanks for the validation. I don't think it is possible to pretend forgiveness and it really be forgiveness. I have someone in my life who is extremely uncomfortable because I continue to love them and show them grace and mercy where none is deserved other than because my Lord gave me the grace to release to her. I have great compassion upon her because she has yet to truly receive the forgiveness I've given. But I can't fix the emotional carnage in her heart, nor can I scale the wall she's built in her mind of inability to understand. In time, I believe God will remove the barriers. In time...His time. My only obligation and command is to continue loving and showing care and concern. My challenge is resisting the devil who continually brings up the past to try and persuade me that what was forgiven is not. He is a liar. And I will not let him rule my emotions, mind or will in this matter. Again, I say, forgiveness is as much or more for the one forgiving than the one receiving at times. Christ forgave, forgives and will forgive. We must do likewise. selahV

    By Anonymous selahV, at 5/27/2007 4:28 PM  

  • Rose, Sorry to quote you extensively here, but I think this one paragraph of yours shows that you truely have already forgiven him. Here's the quote...

    "What about this situation:
    You have a friend who really wrongs you. You go to him and you make it clear to him how much he hurt you. He won't budge. He does not see that he has done anything wrong, or he won't admit it. Years pass. When you think of this friend, you wish you had been able to come to peace with him. You still have an ache in your heart when you think of him. He hurt you and his subsequent lack of sorrow over the break in the friendship is a pain. Besides all that, you miss him!! His lack of willingness to recognize his fault in the matter is a real head scratcher and left a scar on your heart. He didn't want to see you anymore after he hurt you and you are not friends any longer. He is out of your life. This lack of peace with him haunts you."

    Here's what does it for me:
    1)"You go to him and you make it clear to him how much he hurt you."

    2)"you wish you had been able to come to peace with him. You still have an ache in your heart when you think of him."

    3)"Besides all that, you miss him!!"

    4)"This lack of peace with him haunts you."


    I dunno but how close to the father of the prodigal is your desire to welcome your old friend back? I think pretty close.

    Didn't you do a pencil sketch of him on your blog about a year ago, the one who did a lot of "Third Partying"?

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 5/27/2007 9:32 PM  

  • Rest, my friend. Your heart obviously WANTS the reconciliation. Keep praying for it. I don't sense any bitterness in your heart towards him, only love and desire to have fellowship with him again.

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 5/27/2007 9:36 PM  

  • David,
    You ask a lot of the questions that I have. Thanks for your example of the Lord and Peter. His forgiveness is perfect, isn't it?

    Brian,
    Good points. Actually, if you think about it, can you forgive just out of obligation? Not really. You can say you forgive, but if you are motivated by obligation, your feelings will not match your words. I also appreciated what you said about reconciliation and the boundaries that God may be allowing.

    Mark,
    Hello. You don't miss a trick, do you? What a good memory you have. Yes, I was thinking about Joe when I wrote this post. He was the man that led me to the Lord and I think about him a lot. He was a brawler. He was angry at people a lot. He thought very ill of a lot of people, even Christians. I used to listen to him go on and on about people and their rotten natures. Then, when I did something he didn't like (meet John the Baptist and marry him) I became one of the subjects of his scorn. He just doesn't love people very much. But I can't forget that the Lord had used him to show me the gospel. It's funny how the Lord allows things. I often think about him and how amazing it would be if his heart softened towards others ... what an impact it would have on all the lives he has touched. Oh well ..

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/28/2007 7:49 AM  

  • He led you to the Lord, you pray for him to become more Christ-like; in so doing you just may endup being the biggest blessing anybody ever could have been in his life. Keep praying!

    May the Lord bless you at Rose's Reasonings.

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 5/28/2007 10:04 AM  

  • Thanks Rose for catching the gist of what I was driving at and may we all remember the boundaries God has rightly placed for all of us. He is a good God and it is the enemy that taunts and drives us one against another. I have to remind myself of this as well as I often forget the enemies devices and how we often fall captive to his craft and lose the joy that He wants us to have in Christ.

    May the Lord continue to bless all of you and may you bask in the freedom of serving Him not in fear or obligation but with joy in our hearts and have a Happy Memorial day.

    By Anonymous brian, at 5/28/2007 1:15 PM  

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