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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10 Consequences of Refusing to Forgive

We had a powerful morning today at Second Mile as we looked at some crucial teaching from Jesus about forgiveness. A number of folks asked for one of the lists I read, so I thought I’d post it here. Also, I’ll be posting some other great excerpts from Ray Pritchard’s book, The Healing Power of Forgiveness.

What happens when we refuse to forgive? Here are ten consequences of an unforgiving spirit (Pritchard compiled the list with material from R.T. Kendall, Waylon Moore, and Bob Leland).

1. Your fellowship with the Father is blocked.
2. The Holy Spirit is grieved.
3. Your prayers will not be answered.
4. God leaves you alone to face the problems of life in your own power.
5. The devil gains a foothold through your bitterness.
6. You force God to become your enemy.
7. You lose the blessing of God on your life.
8. You waste time nursing a wounded spirit.
9. You become enslaved to the people you hate.
10. You become like the people you refuse to forgive.

Question: Which of these impact you the most? Anything you’d add?

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MPOW: Matthew 18 – The Forgiven Must Forgive

NOTE: MPOW stands for Ministry Passage of the Week, and contains a weekly verse that comes from Bible Boot Camp, an intensive leadership development course that I am teaching this fall to about 20 growing leaders. Click here for other MPOWs.

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Matthew 18: 21-35 – The Forgiven Must Forgive

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

One of the most powerful negative influences in the life of a believer is bitterness and a spirit of unforgiveness. A friend of mine once said, “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping it will hurt the one who offended you.” So true. And so inappropriate for somebody who has been forgiven an unpayable debt through the grace of Jesus.

This parable is especially thought-provoking when you put the debt amounts into modern money:

  • The man is forgiven debt of 10,000 talents (1 talent = 20 yrs wages).
  • Then he refuses to forgive debt of 100 denarii (1 denarius = 1 days wages).
  • In today’s terms, the man was forgiven a $7 billion debt (unpayable) and refused to forgive a $12,000 debt.

Are you holding onto bitterness in any area of your life? Are there certain people that you are unwilling to forgive?

May the gospel of radical forgiveness melt your heart, allowing you to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

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Could you forgive the person who killed your spouse?

Here’s a remarkable story of forgiveness from Cindy Winters, whose husband was gunned down in his church a few weeks ago.

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