Lately God has been dealing with me on forgiveness.
And, honestly, I’m not faring so well.
Forgiving others is hard. Especially when there is a whole pile of things to forgive.
Things like lies, betrayal upon betrayal, infidelity, words from fifteen years ago that still ring loud and shred the soul to pieces.
Or abuse of any kind… how on earth does a woman sort through that and keep her head screwed on straight?
Friend, I have no perfect answers when it comes to forgiving someone. But I do know we get to choose the path we will take despite our life’s events.
At some point we must choose the path marked Bitterness or the path marked Forgiveness.
One offers justifiable revenge. The other leaves vengeance to Another.
One makes sense to our human thinking. The other almost appalling.
One is well traveled and has many people along the path ready to aid and advise. The other, has only a scattered few wanderers and they all look to have had a pretty tough row to hoe.
I have gone the Bitterness road much my life. On the outside I looked fine, I faked the smiles, said the right things, and hoarded the painful truth all to myself. On the inside I became more and more consumed by anger and malice. I was tormented by bouts of self-loathing, depression, and thoughts of revenge.
Friend, that is no way to live.
I do not have perfect answers when it comes to the topic of forgiving.
However, I’ve been processing a few thoughts on what forgiveness is and what it is not. While this is not an exhaustive list, I trust the Lord will speak to you in some way through it.
What Forgiveness Is Not
1. Forgiveness is not tolerating. God takes sin seriously. Ultimately He is the one who will avenge us and justify all that was wronged. Forgiving our trespassers does not mean we simply tolerate things. Instead, we keep ourselves pure by trusting God to be our avenger (Proverbs 20:22).
2. Forgiveness is not the absence of anger. What is evil in the sight of the Lord should appall us. However, forgiveness doesn’t act out on that anger. Instead, re-align your heart, mind, and soul with God’s Word. Philippians 4:8 gives good advice on how to do that.
3. Forgiveness does not mean there will be no consequences. Remember, God avenges. He is “slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Numbers 14:17 emphasis added). See Romans 12:19. Whether He serves justice in our transgressor’s lifetime or beyond, that is for Him to decide.
4. Forgiveness does not mean complete trust is restored. We are called to forgive, not trust blindly. Matthew 10 tells us to be as shrewd as snakes, yet innocent as doves (v.16). We should be on our guard but not stupid. Read what Jesus says in verses 17-23, followed up by the encouragement to not be immobilized by fear (v. 26-31).
5. Forgiveness does not mean giving up – it is trusting our sovereign God to do His job perfectly. Friend, He does God well – let Him handle it. Proverbs 3:5-6
This 30-day Trust Scripture Study is a beautiful and gentle place to grow in trusting God for His love for you.
6. Forgiveness does not mean you will forget. It is impossible for a healthy human mind to forget. We might block things for a while, but it’s still there and the enemy will use it against us whenever he wants to. However, after we have chosen to step toward forgiveness, we get to choose whether to pick it back up or leave it buried at the cross.
7. Forgiveness is not a one time event – its a lifestyle. As Christian women claiming to walk in the shadow of the Cross which forgave us so much, forgiveness should be one of the first crosses we pick up. (Matthew 6:14-15)
My friend, many days I stink at forgiving others. However, at some point the Bitterness road drops off into a dizzying spiral that will land us in the wrong eternity.
And I’m not sure I want to go that far.
If you would like prayer to be able to forgive someone or something, feel free to request my prayer support. Just reply to this email. I don’t need all your details, however, if you need a Jesus sister to share with I am here to listen.