“Forgiveness is not a feeling. If we wait until we feel like forgiving, we never will and we won’t experience the healing that God wants to lead us towards. Forgiveness is a choice we make, many times in spite of how we feel.
Forgiveness is an act of the will. It involves a series of decisions, the first of which is to call on God to change our hearts. As He gives us grace, we must then decide (with our will) not to keep score and take matters into our own hands to do it our way.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is a passive process in which an issue fades from our memory as time passes. Forgiving is an active process.
When God says that He “will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25), He is not saying that He cannot remember our sins. God does not forget our sins. Rather, He is promising that He will not remember them. He chooses not to mention, recount, or think about our sins ever again.
Similarly, when we forgive, we must draw on God’s grace and consciously decide not to think or talk about what others have done to hurt us. We stop allowing the thought of revenge to linger in our mind. This requires a lot of effort, especially when the hurt is still fresh. But as we decide to stop dwelling on the hurt, God begins moving to bring healing by replacing the hurt with peace.
Forgiveness is not excusing. Excusing says, “That’s okay,” and implies, “What you did wasn’t really wrong.” Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing.
The very fact that forgiveness is needed and granted indicates that what was done was wrong and without excuse.
Forgiveness is remembering that God has forgiven us for all the wrong we have done to Him.
It’s resting in the truth that forgiven people are given the power to forgive.
Forgiveness deals honestly with sin; it brings a freedom that no amount of excusing could ever hope to provide.
Forgiveness is not pretending nothing is wrong. Someone has betrayed our trust or caused a loss. It is OK to recognize and feel the hurt instigated by another’s behavior. Don’t sweep the incident under the rug!
Sometimes we feel that if we forgive, we’re actually declaring that what the other person did wasn’t so bad. That is not forgiveness. Forgiveness confronts the issue. It’s about dealing with hurt so that God can continue to move us forward into the life He has for us.
Forgiveness is not reconciling. Reconciliation and forgiveness are two separate processes. We can forgive without reconciling, but we cannot reconcile without forgiveness. Forgiveness is instant, but trust will take time to rebuild. Forgiveness does not mean we immediately allow the person back into our life or heart.
There are consequences for people’s actions (Psalm 51), which may include giving us time to see evidence of the person’s trustworthiness. If the person decides to continue the same negative patterns that caused the offense or hurt in the first place, then we can forgive but not reconcile.
Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate responsibility. It’s not unloving to hold someone accountable. Often, accountability is the most loving thing we can do because it could lead to repentance.
To truly forgive someone means to release the person who hurt you from suffering punishment for the offense. It’s letting go of your right to get even. What are you holding on to that God is asking you to let go of? Pray that God would give you the power to let go and learn what forgiveness is really about.”
40 Days 2019 • Live Alive
Pastor James Hilton