15 Things Forgiveness DOESN’T Mean

As a follow up to this past Sunday’s sermon on Forgiveness, here’s another helpful teaching from Ray Pritchard’s The Healing Power of Forgiveness. Pritchard writes:

Sometimes when we say we can’t or won’t forgive, we are actually talking about something other than biblical forgiveness. Let me list a few things forgiveness does not mean:

1. It does not mean approving of what someone else did.
2. It does not mean pretending that evil never took place.
3. It does not mean making an excuse for other people’s bad behavior.
4. It does not mean justifying evil so that sin somehow becomes less sinful.
5. It does not mean overlooking abuse.
6. It does not mean denying that others tried to hurt you repeatedly.
7. It does not mean letting others walk all over you.
8. It does not mean refusing to press charges when a crime has been committed.
9. It does not mean forgetting the wrong that was done.
10. It does not mean pretending you were never hurt.
11. It does not mean you must restore the relationship to what it was before.
12. It does not mean you must become friends again.
13. It does not mean there must be a total reconciliation as if nothing ever happened.
14. It does not mean that you must tell the person you have forgiven them.
15. It does not mean that all the negative consequences of sin are canceled.

Why do you think these are important distinctions?

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  1. #1 by E. Stephen Burnett on November 9, 2010 - 9:46 am

    These are vital distinctions because if Christians take true concepts defined by Scripture — such as love or justice — away from Scripture, and try to determine apart from Scriptural context what these concepts mean, we will end up with gross distortions of them.

    For example, a Christian might forgive a thief/murderer/rapist even while pressing charges against this person. God promises He will exact some measure of punishment on this Earth, using the civil authorities (Romans 13). Yet still He tells us to forgive others’ personal slights (as in “turn the other cheek”) and is Himself our example of perfect love and justice.

    Moreover, “love” as defined by Scripture may involve defending one’s own family members against an attacker, which is both loving to one’s family and the attacker. It would not be loving to enable his sin, any more than it would be to enable abuse with “forgiveness.”

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