7 Things Forgiveness is Not

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 comment on this post. I don’t need all your details, however, if you need a Jesus sister to share with I am here to listen.




  1. Jen says:

    This was so good except number 3. When she quoted numbers 14:17. I would say quoted out of context. I’m pretty sure the blood of Jesus covers this. So yes the guilty do go free when they repent and turn to Jesus. And generational curses are broken all because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Praise the Lord!!!! Because we are all guilty of something. But that just my understanding of it.

    I will add consequences yes sometimes but punishment no. Jesus paid that price. Praise Him over and over!!!! Thank you Lord! Realizing this helps me to forgive.

    • Kaylene Yoder says:

      Hello Jen, I am so sorry for coming across as mishandling the Word of God. πŸ™ You are right, the blood of Jesus covers all sin of those who have repented. And you are right in pointing out that those in right standing with Him can walk free and fearless of generational bondage. I thank Him every day for letting my husband and I be the generation that took a stand for our family.

      I am also grateful that you find the strength to forgive others in the realization of what Christ’s blood covers. I too, am encouraged in His grace and the knowledge that He abounds in love and forgives sin and rebellion. In repentance we stand covered in Jesus’ blood. But what of those who do not choose repentance? Nor feel any sorrow for their sinful actions? We are still called to forgive them because of His great grace toward us. However, us forgiving them does not save them. It only means we place the situation in His hands for Him to deal with them in a manner He sees fit. His righteousness will not host the unrepentant or hardened of heart. He will punish the guilty. I read that as in He will punish and serve vengeance to those who choose to stay in sin rather than turn to Him.

      You are correct, He does serve consequences. Maybe the word “punish” seems too strong, but what should we deem the eternal consequence for the ones who meet Him in an uncovered state? Those who remain unrepentant and purposefully disobedient?

      Number three was written in an effort to remind myself that I am responsible to keep myself in right standing with God. No matter what others do or say against me there will come a time when I give account to how I forgave, just as the guilty (the un-repentant ones) must give account to Him for their choices. Our righteous Judge will serve each as He sees fit. This truth helps lean into forgiving others and leave room for God’s wrath trusting what He has written, “It is Mine to avenge; I will repay”. My responsibility is to forgive. His is to serve justice, whether that is an earthly consequence or an eternal punishment.

      I thank you for your comment. Iron sharpens iron! πŸ™‚ You make good points and you have reminded me to handle God’s Word correctly and to the best of my ability. May we both continue growing in His grace.

  2. Lizzy says:

    I love this post! I’ve got some posts brewing on forgiveness myself and I think I’m definitely going to be linking to this one!

      • Wendy Dyer says:

        I need so much help in forgiving the wrongs of a person who will not acknowledge the sins they have done. Would love help praying on forgiveness and letting go of anger and bitterness. It consumes me a lot of the time.

        • Kaylene Yoder says:

          Praying for you! Loving out the forgiveness Jesus showed on the cross is SO hard. I am praying He will strengthen you and fill you with His power to do what he is calling you to. Give yourself time to heal, and keep seeking the Lord each day. He knows your heartbreak. πŸ™πŸ’—πŸ™

  3. Faith says:

    Hi Kaylene

    Thank you for your inspirational words of encouragement. I please need prayer for unforgiveness towards my husband….too many issues has taken place, but I just need God to help me in the road to recovery to forgive my husband.


  4. Tonya Ferguson says:

    I am requesting prayer for forgiveness for my husband and my family of origin. There have been a lot of hurts, and I find myself becoming toxic as I am carrying this pain around. I want to forgive and release it to God. I also ask that my family and my family of origin forgive me as well (like I said, I feel as if I was becoming toxic so I’m certain it reflected in those relationships). Thank you!

    Side note: I greatly appreciate your work and authenticity. It was your fasting for 7 days for your husband that got me through a VERY rough year in 2018. The relationship is not yet healed, but continuously fasting throughout the year and following your prayer guide helped me to hear how God wanted to change me. When I need guidance about my marriage, I often dive into your guided fast and workbook. Thank you Kaylene

    • Kaylene Yoder says:

      Tonya, I’m so sorry for the trials you are going through. I really like how aware you are of how unforgiveness can turn us toxic and bitter. That being said, it is one of the hardest life choices sometimes. Forgiveness is a journey – a conscious and daily choice. There are many days I wake up and have to battle through this question, “Will I choose to be angry or will I choose to forgive?” Most days I choose well. Other days its really, really hard.

      I pray you will find strength in every moment as you rely on your Heavenly Father. May your hope be greater than earthly measures. I pray you will grasp on to all the Lord is and promises to do for you so that no person or situation can hinder or cloud your eternal vision. Lord, surround her with peace, strength, joy, love, greater hope and abundant faith in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. ?

  5. Dawn says:

    Forgiveness does not have to mean letting that person into your life. Sometimes you have to protect yourself from people who use and abuse you. Setting good boundaries to limit that contact to what is best for you can set you free to live the life God wants for you.

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