Forgiveness can be called one of the most misinterpreted, misunderstood and malpracticed virtues in Christianity. Usually forgiveness involves two main individuals or even parties. The offendee and the offender. What does forgiveness mean to the offendee? What does being forgiven mean to the offender? We hope you will find this blog post useful in your personal life as well as in ministry.
For the offendee
1. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness
People think forgiving turns them into a door mat. Especially men, find it difficult to forgive because they believe to forgive is a sign of weakness and to fight back is a sign of strength. The truth is forgiveness is the doorway to God’s power and healing.
2. Forgiveness is not dependent upon the other person’s repentance.
It’s a transformation of attitude and response towards the offender that takes place inside the offendee’s heart. The parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35 illustrates this truth perfectly.
3. Forgiveness means wearing the offender’s shoes
We all make mistakes. All of us are sinners saved by grace. Thus Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free and realizing the prisoner can sometimes be me, (Matthew 18:34).
4. It’s a way of life
The film industry imposes the idea that forgiveness is just for catastrophic events. It is not so. Forgiveness is a way of life, (Ephesians 4:32).
5. Heart is the source of true forgiveness
Forgiveness is not merely a mind issue but forgiving from the heart, (Matthew 18:35)
6. To forgive means to forget.
This statement doesn’t make any sense when taken at the surface value because you can’t really pretend as nothing happened, (ex: an unfaithful spouse, sexual abuse but not limited to…) It actually means deciding not to dwell on the incident, (Romans 12:2) and constantly reaffirm your forgiveness for the offender until the pain fades away.
7. Forgiveness is humanly impossible
Forgiveness requires God’s grace as we often tend to run out of unconditional love.
8. Praying for enemy wont change them
Praying for enemy wont change them, but it always changes us. When we pray for the enemy we extend them grace as God has extended grace to us, (Matthew 18:33).
For the offender
1. Forgiveness and trust
Forgiveness is not instant restoration of trust. Forgiveness is a gift; where as trust is earned. For example a wife might forgive her unfaithful husband. But no body can blame her for not trusting her husband like she was used to.
2. Forgiveness and confrontation
Forgiveness does not isolate the offendee of his rights. The offendee can seek to address the hurt and try to restore the relationship. (Even secular psychiatrists encourage their patients to confront the offender) Matthew 15:18-19 teaches us the process.
3. Forgiveness and consequences
Forgiveness doesn’t override natural consequences. A man reaps what he sows. Though King David was forgiven he had to face the long term consequences of his sin, (the death of Bathsheba’s child, Amnon and Tamar, Absalom).
4. Forgiveness and justice
Forgiveness is not the way we govern society. Justice must prevail or a society will fall apart, (Romans 13:1-5). Thus Forgiveness is not forfeiting justice but appealing to a higher court where justice will be done. Besides forgiveness is what happens to me internally at a heart level, (illustration: Rusty)
5. Forgiveness and discipline
Forgiveness is not minimizing or trivializing sin. Sin is sin and evil is evil. Therefore Discipline is necessary.
6. Forgiveness is not tolerating abuse
An abusive husband can’t expect his wife to tolerate his behavior in the name of forgiveness because forgiveness is not staying in a highly violent and abusive situation and letting it occur again and again.