This may be the shortest post of the ‘Forgive But Never Forget’ series; but perhaps, the most important. So read on. I believe it’ll be worth it.
Forgiveness is such a touchy subject for a lot of us. Anytime anyone encourages us to forgive, we feel offended or judged; as if we were being accused of being bad people. We feel as if our pain is not being acknowledged or the offence is not worthy of our frustration. When trusted friends, family, mentors, and spiritual leaders encourage us to forgive, I don’t believe they do so out of judgement. They understand the freedom that is granted through forgiveness. The freedom is not for the person being forgiven, but the ‘forgiver.’
It amazes me. As difficult as people may find it to forgive others, it’s even more difficult for us to forgive ourselves. As dignified as many of us may feel when encouraged to forgive someone, the idea of forgiving ourselves is nearly impossible to some of us.
This is so unfortunate. We feel as if when we forgive ourselves for when we’ve hurt others, made poor decisions, or weren’t the best versions of ourselves, we’re saying, “It’s okay for me to have been that way or to have done that.” This is the very same obstacle we face when considering forgiving others. “If I forgive them, it’s as if I’m saying it was okay for them to have done what they did.”
To forgive someone does not make right the act that was committed. Instead, it frees them from the punishment or penalty of the act. This is the beauty of God’s forgiveness of us. When God forgives you for lying, He’s not saying it’s okay to lie from this point forward. He’s simply no longer penalizing you for the sin of lying. We spoke about this in Part 1.
When God forgives, he doesn’t just forgive the one thing you did, but the nature in you that is inclined to commit the act again (Isaiah 43:15).
This is the same kind of forgiveness we must implement from ourselves to ourselves. Many of us have received the forgiveness of God but have yet to forgive ourselves. Many of us are still penalizing ourselves for errors God has forgiven, redeemed, and forgotten.
Some of us will ‘forgive’ ourselves but will rehearse the act(s) and find ourselves conflicted. Due to the fact that we’ve continued to remember ourselves in our mistakes, we can’t imagine ourselves as one who is free from the punishment, guilt, and shame of our mistakes. Don’t let one (or several) mistakes keep you trapped in your thinking about who you are, who you will be, and who God has destined you to be.
Unforgiveness is a prison. Set yourself free. Receive the gift of God’s forgiveness, grace, and love through Christ. If you’ve never accepted Christ and would like to know more about what the heck this all means, feel free to email me. I’d love to talk.
For further study: I taught a sermon at my church a few months back on forgiveness. Feel free to listen for greater insight on this topic. It’s broken up in two videos (not because it’s long) but because there were technical difficulties that day. Find them here: There is Freedom in Forgiveness and There is Freedom in Forgiveness Pt. 2.
Scriptures: Romans 6:23, Romans 3:23, Matthew 18:21-22, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 5:23-24.
Over and out.