“Lord, I know the Bible says that we are supposed to forgive one another, but since she was deliberate in what she did, do I have to forgive her? Okay Lord, I will forgive her, but I won’t forget. She will never have the opportunity to burn me twice.”
Forgiveness: the act of dismissing a debt. Even though forgiveness is required for Christians, it is one of the most difficult to do. When others harm us by doing things to us, saying things about us, betraying our confidence, neglecting to pay money owed or is some way cause us emotional or physical harm, we often desire to get revenge and make them pay for what they have done. We want them to hurt in the same way they have hurt us rather than forgive them.
Here are five reasons why we don’t want to forgive.
1. The other person has not apologized.
On many occasions we will state that we won’t forgive until the other person apologizes. You may wait forever and not get an apology and the other person may not even know that they owe you an apology. The apology may come, but if it wasn’t delivered in the right way, we may continue to hold a grudge.
2. Repeat offender
The other person has done the same thing before. Perhaps the person offended you the same way and you already forgave them once and it happens again. It’s bad enough to get burned the first time, but twice or three times. You say to yourself, “I won’t be a fool again.”
We can tell our story so many times to whoever will hear us and easily adopt a self-righteousness attitude toward the persons that caused the harm. Once we demonize an enemy, it becomes harder to forgive the person, because after all, devils don’t deserve forgiveness.
4. They are getting away with what they did.
You may be saying to yourself “I can’t let them off the hook that easily for what they did to me.” Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook. It’s about freeing yourself from carrying the negative burden around regarding someone else. Let God handle the punishment you think others deserve.
5. You no longer want a relationship with the person.
Often times we feel like forgiveness means we must reconcile the relationship with the other person. This is not always the case. You can forgive someone and choose to end the relationship. Case in point, couples are able to work together to raise their children even though they decided to divorce.
Many books have been written about forgiveness. If you are struggling in this area, read a biblical book on forgiveness. One of my favorites is The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu.
The Tutu’s outlined a 4 step forgiveness process. 1) Telling the story; 2) Naming the hurt; 3) Granting forgiveness; and 4) Renewing or releasing the relationship. They state: “Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us... Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, they will hold the keys to our happiness, they will be our jailor.”
Every book on forgiveness I have read states that when we forgive others we are freeing ourselves. Holding eternal grudges and unforgiveness is like picking up hot coals and throwing them at others. You will end up burning yourself and causing self-damage and you will most likely miss them because of the self-inflicted pain.
Still having trouble forgiving others? Take the time to read and meditate on Luke 17:3-4. Forgiveness doesn’t always happen overnight, but it can happen. Do it. You will thank yourself in the long run.
Can you forgive? What’s stopping you?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach