Posts Tagged forgiveness

Do I need to tell the person, “I forgive you”?

Forgiveness can be a complex issue, especially when it comes to deep or ongoing hurt. There’s definitely more to discuss than I had time to last Sunday, so here are some answers to common questions about forgiveness from Ray Pritchard’s, The Healing Power of Forgiveness.

Do I need to tell the person, “I forgive you”?

Not necessarily. Obviously, if a person asks for forgiveness, and if you intend to forgive him or her, then of course you should say, “I forgive you.” But most of the time, the people who hurt us are not seeking forgiveness or reconciliation. Sometimes it isn’t helpful to say, “I forgive you,” for then you end up picking a fight because the person responds, “I didn’t do anything that needs to be forgiven.” Remember, your forgiveness doesn’t depend on them. You don’t need their permission to forgive them. You don’t need their agreement that they were wrong. Just forgive them. Choose forgiveness in your heart, and then move on with your life.

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Does forgiveness always lead to reconciliation?

Forgiveness can be a complex issue, especially when it comes to deep or ongoing hurt. There’s definitely more to discuss than I had time to last Sunday, so here are some answers to common questions about forgiveness from Ray Pritchard’s, The Healing Power of Forgiveness.

Does forgiveness always lead to reconciliation?

The answer is no. Forgiveness is one thing, reconciliation is another. Reconciliation requires forgiveness, but forgiveness does not demand reconciliation. Forgiveness depends on you. Reconciliation depends on you plus the other person. It implies confession, repentance, forgiveness, restoration of trust, the passage of time, and a mutual desire to reconcile? Often reconciliation is not possible, and sometimes it is not wise (for instance a former husband who is still abusive, a former business partner who is still a crook, etc.).

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What about the person who says, “I can forgive but I can’t forget”?

Forgiveness can be a complex issue, especially when it comes to deep or ongoing hurt. There’s definitely more to discuss than I had time to last Sunday, so here are some answers to common questions about forgiveness from Ray Pritchard’s, The Healing Power of Forgiveness.

What about the person who says, “I can forgive but I can’t forget”?

This is a common problem and a common statement. In pondering this problem, my mind ran to a scripture in the book of Hebrews that speaks of God’s forgiveness of our sins. Surely if we have trouble forgetting, what about God, who never forgets anything? Hebrews 10:17 quotes God as saying, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” According to the phrase “I will remember their sins no more,” God chooses not to remember our sins.

That’s helpful, isn’t it? Forgiveness is a choice we make. It is not a feeling or a mood or a passing notion. Forgiveness does not mean we somehow wipe out of our mind the record of what happened. Forgiveness means we choose not to remember it. There is a big difference between remembering a painful event and dwelling on it.

Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross, was talking with a friend one day when the name of a person they both knew came up. Years before, that person had acted meanly toward Clara. The friend asked Clara, “Don’t you remember when she did that to you?” “No,” Clara replied, “I distinctly remember forgetting that.”

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Is forgiveness an event or a process?

Forgiveness can be a complex issue, especially when it comes to deep or ongoing hurt. There’s definitely more to discuss than I had time to last Sunday, so here are some answers to common questions about forgiveness from Ray Pritchard’s, The Healing Power of Forgiveness.

Is forgiveness an event or a process?

The answer is it’s both. Forgiveness is an event in the sense that you must, at some point, decide to forgive. And it is a process that must be repeated often over time. I spoke with a woman whose husband abandoned her for a younger woman, leaving her with a very young child to raise alone. As she told me the story, she said, “I guess I’ve forgiven him a million times. I forgive him over and over again every day.” I replied, “You’ll probably have to forgive him a million more times before its over.” That may not seem like a word of hope, but, in fact, it is. Remember, forgiveness isn’t a tool for manipulating people into having a good relationship with you…we should practice forgiveness for God’s sake and our own. That ought to be enough to motivate any of us.

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How would you describe forgiveness?

Forgiveness can be a complex issue, especially when it comes to deep or ongoing hurt. There’s definitely more to discuss than I had time to last Sunday, so here are some answers to common questions about forgiveness from Ray Pritchard’s, The Healing Power of Forgiveness.

How would you describe forgiveness?

We discussed this already a little bit in this post, but Pritchard has some helpful word pictures that he got from John Nieder and Thomas Thompson:

To forgive is to turn the key, open the cell door, and let the prisoner walk free.

To forgive is to write in large letters across a debt, “Nothing owed.”

To forgive is to shoot an arrow so high and far that it can never be found again.

To forgive is to bundle up all the garbage and trash and dispose of it, leaving the house clean and fresh.

To forgive is to grant a full pardon to a condemned criminal.

To forgive is to relax a stranglehold on a wrestling opponent.

To forgive is to sandblast a wall of graffiti, leaving it looking like new.

To forgive is to smash a clay pot into a thousand pieces so it can never be pieced together again.

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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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What is Biblical Forgiveness?

Ray Pritchard writes:

There are four different words for forgiveness in the Bible — three Hebrew words and one Greek. The first Hebrew word means “to cover”–like using a rug to cover the dirt on your floor. The second word means “to lift and take away”–which happens when you remove a stain from a carpet. The third word means “to pardon” or “to wipe the record clean.” The fourth word means “to let go” or “to send away,” as when you release a prisoner from jail.

When you put these words together, you get a graphic picture of forgiveness. God covers our sin, he removes the inner stain, he wipes our personal record clean, and then he releases us from our guilt so that we are set free. (19, emphasis added).

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