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The Forgiveness Question

Something has gone wrong with forgiveness. As wrong and as self-destructive as a bitter, vengeful spirit is, isn’t there something missing when we say, I need to forgive to get the anger out of my own stomach?

Is it really Christ-like to say that we need to unconditionally forgive others so that we can get past the harm they’ve done to us? Did Jesus really mean for his followers to publicly forgive those who do terrible things to us or others, whether the offender has admitted their wrong or not?

Is forgiving others the only way to love those who hurt us? Is it even possible that forgiving others may be one of the most unloving and self-centered things we could do?

After posting “The Trust Card”, I got to thinking that what I’d really like to think through with you is the issue of whether our approach to unconditionally forgive others reflects well on Christ.

Before I post again on this subject, I’d like to know whether you have some of these same questions, and whether you would like to think through the subject together?

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20 Responses to “The Forgiveness Question”

  1. CYW says:

    Intriguing. Think on.

  2. TFasold says:

    It all comes down to “Forgive others as I have forgiven you”. ALL of us have fallen short, as for myself almost on a daily basis. So how can I, a transgresser myself, not forgive?

    That’s not saying GOD expects us to be a doormat,but,I think we all have to listen to the Holy Spirit(some people call it”intuition”) GOD has given us to ascertain whether or not the person we are forgiving truly is sorry and repentant.
    Trusting that the Holy Spirit “intuition” will tell us whether or not to continue on in that relationship.

    I think you’re saying that by simply forgiving just in words to keep from doing the WORK(because, depending on the offense, sometimes it’s really hard to forgive) it takes to truly forgive, for you AND THE PERSON WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST YOU. That can sometimes be very selfish and unloving.

  3. lysager says:

    God’s forgiveness is unconditional. We have nothing that God needs. His love, expressed by the grace that we know in Christ, is true and without alterior motives. Our forgiveness of others, as is our charitable works, often tinged with self serving motives. We give because it makes us feel good or forgive to avoid unpleasant side effects from anger and hate. This is not to say we should not give and forgive, but rather to point out how far short of Jesus’s perfect motives we truly are. Paul cried out asking ” who will save me from this body of death”? We want to do what is right. We wish to reflect Christ’s glory, but all we do falls so far short including the forgiveness we extend to others. Yes we must forgive as a reflection of what we have been given by Him. We should not become discouraged when we know in our heart our motives are not totally pure. Our weakness and imperfections only magnify His perfect grace and forgiveness. We are learning about Him as we bumble along. The day is coming when we will have all our human failings purged and we will see with the clarity of His righteousness in Heaven.

  4. charlie64 says:

    Can we really forgive without the help of the Holy Spirit? More importantly can we fool ourselves into thinking that we have forgiven.If I understand Jesus correctly when asked how many times we are to forgive>.. He replied seventy times seven which to me means we must continually live with forgiveness in our hearts,no matter how bad the wrong may be.In other words I believe we can’t express Gods love for us without a willingness to also live with a forgiving heart.Niether can be achieved without the peace of God in our hearts.

  5. ilovegod says:

    This is not to say that forgiveness is easy or easily understood. Most people’s motives for forgiving is to be set free and to set others free. No one wants to live in condemnation or the strife the comes from unforgiveness. So I believe that even if the motivation to forgive seems self-serving, it can be a good and a worthwhile process. The Word of God teaches us that it is necesary and godly. Is it selfish to want to please God? Is it selfish to obey God even when your heart is not feeling it? The hardest thing for me is the forgetting part. Have I truly forgiven if I still remember the offense? Or does God have a purpose for allowing me to remember when I wish to forget it?
    I am resolved that God will perfect that which He has begun in me. I will continue to forgive no matter what the motive appears to be. To GOD Be The Glory, Amen.

  6. Mart De Haan says:

    I really appreciate those of you who are weighing in on this. I’m planning to post a couple of times over the weekend on another subject i.e. some more of the discoveries that I think have helped me better understand the Bible. In the meantime I hope more will join the discussion here about whether we think “unconditional forgiveness” reflects well on our Lord. Thanks again for jumping in.

  7. Mike says:

    Luk 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

    I must disagree with the statement that God’s forgiveness is unconditional. His love is unconditional, but His forgiveness is definitely conditional. In order to be forgiven, one must confess and repent from one’s sins, that is the condition. Without repentance there is no forgiveness.

    What does forgiveness accomplish? Forgiveness restores a relationship to a condition as if we had never sinned. So we sin, we repent, we confess, God forgets. So likewise we should forgive others when they sin against us. They sin, they confess, they repent (apologize from the heart) we forget. Even on those conditions, the forgetting is the hardest part. I believe that’s what God is addressing. There are basic conditions to forgiveness. God does not restore the relationship through forgiveness until the sinner repents and confesses. Does He expect us to forgive to a higher standard?

    Loving the sinner unconditionally? Also hard, but God does expect us to do that. How? We pray for their welfare, their salvation, for blessings in their lives, for success of their children, etc. We don’t drag the sin out in public, exposing them to others and whining about how we’ve been wronged (I’m speaking to myself from experience here) We don’t dwell on it, waiting for the chance to let them know how angry we are that they’ve wronged us, or worse, secretly hoping that bad things happen to them. That’s certainly not loving them unconditionally. God forgive me for my malicious thoughts and attitude toward one who has hurt me.

  8. onnarrowpath says:

    The term “uncondition forgiveness” is a hard concept for flawed humans. Is our Lord’s forgiveness even unconditional? Doesn’t He forgive us on the condition of our repentance? Or are we forgiven even when we don’t ask for it? If I understand scripture anywhere close to its meaning, Christ’s death secured forgiveness for all people and all sins, but it is not imputed to individuals until we see our depravity and ask Christ to include in the number of the forgiven ones (in other words,REPENT).
    How would our unconditional forgiveness to others reflect on our Lord? If we could actually acheive such a feat..To those that are repentant it would show God’s glory, To those that are non-repentant it would show God’s weakness.

  9. mac.me says:

    Forgiveness is a virtue. Our OLD selfish self will resist it. But the new redeemed self, which is reborn will welcome it. What I’m trying to say here is that forgiveness is a virtue we can practice. It may be hard for some time to release, especially if you have a bitter past, but you can always outgrow the old self with the LOVE of God ( a key ingredient for us to be forgiving).

  10. aussieborn2001 says:

    Forgiveness is definitely an area that is wide open. Questions relating to issues such as when to forgive and how often we are to forgive have always brought a wide variety of responses.
    Questions that I have relate to the following – how often should I forgive someone who commits an offense and apologises when they are ‘caught out’ but then repeats tha offense again. The other question I have relates to forgiving someone who believes they have done nothing wrong and don’t understand why I’m forgiving them.
    When Jesus talked about forgiving ‘seventy seven times’ in Matthew 18 it is not clear whether it is the same offense repeatedly that is being forgiven.
    Should forgivness lead to a change for both the person being forgiven as well as the person doing the forgiving?

  11. Mart De Haan says:

    I hope you’re enjoying this as much as I am!! This is really a good discussion. Thanks again, for jumping in…

  12. northwoodsmom.com says:

    This is so timely for me. I know all the answers that the bible gives us for forgiveness and feel I have applied them. Recently I have been blind-sided by a tidal wave of anger, bitterness and resentment that I never saw coming. It’s one thing to extend forgiveness for past hurts but another to live with these people on a daily basis who continue to inflict deep wounds. I think in must damage us in ways we just don’t realize, even when we ask for God’s help. Please continue with this, it seems to be my lifeline lately. Peace an God’s love to all.

  13. mpoteet says:

    Hanging from the cross in the throes of death, Jesus whispered, ” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. There is our example of forgiveness. Christ knew the trumped-up charges requiring His confiction were lies, and ultimately the work of Satan. He also knew those crucifying Him were truly unaware of the dimensions of such evil. And He literally sweat blood in the Garden of Gesthemone, anticipating the agony of enduring such public shame, humiliation, and torture. Yet – He forgave. Such is our example, in our pitiful humanity, to imitate. And with prayer, we can, although the ultimate example for us to remember always is Jesus.

  14. mpoteet says:

    You know, I need to add a PS to my post this morning. Jesus says, “Forgive them, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”. That, taken in junction with Matt’s terrific article on Marital Abuse, adds perspective to my post. All abusive people know exactly what they are doing. Thank you for the terific Scripture references.

  15. grubbedk says:

    Extremely relevant for me atm as I have been wrongly accused, slandered and extremely hurt by another person who claims to be a Christian. Since this person has not asked for forgiveness for anything explicit, just the general “let’s forgive, forget and move on” jargon, and her abuse has been so pervasive, I simply cannot do it. Nor can I apologize, since I have not done anything wrong that I know of and she has refused to enlighten me if I have. She knows what she has done, and I simply do not fathom that God is allowing her to prosper as a result of her lies. It is very hurtful and I know I simply must allow God to take care of it since I am helpless. Which is probably a good thing since I might do something I would regret later. However, I want vindication in the worst way and am having a very hard time with this. I really dislike this woman, I am not sure I would even be able to extend forgiveness yet, even if she did ask for it sincerely.

  16. Hephzibah610 says:

    I have thought a lot about this. Does God really forgive us unconditionally as we have been taught? Or, does He wait for us to come and ask forgiveness? I think this question has two sides. One is that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”…that God desires that all would be saved….So the forgiveness is available. But if it is totally unconditional wouldn’t that mean that everyone is going to heaven? So, I believe that the second half of that is that we receive it. We must go to Him for forgiveness and restoration…to ask and receive it.

    So, I have looked at that regarding those who have hurt me. I must forgive them…even before they ask. (This does not mean that the cause of the hurt is ignored but willing to be worked out.) But, I grant them forgiveness…only when they ask. To do it prematurely may cut short a process of repentance that they need….Sometimes the “guilty” party needs to squirm in his guilt for a while that God’s Spirit might work His conviction on his heart…and he turns back to Him.

    So, yes…in our hurry to “make things right” (and perhaps avoid working out the real problem) we may cripple the other person’s process of growth.

    At least that is what I believe.

  17. WeForgive says:

    “Is forgiving others the only way to love those who hurt us? Is it even possible that forgiving others may be one of the most unloving and self-centered things we could do?” If we have responded to those who have offended or hurt us with thoughts or emotions that are not based in love, then I believe we have forgiveness work to do. At this point I do not see forgivness offering anything but love. My working definition is that forgiveness is the restoration of Love. I capitalize Love here to indicate the love described as Agape, the Love of God. My desire is to an expression of God’s Love therefore when I am in my “right mind” I choose to forgive.

    I still need to process these questions because the comments are so rich, I want to reassess my forgiveness ideas before saying more. Blessings All!

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