I don't usually struggle with forgiveness. I hate strife, so it's not usually hard to forgive on my behalf. But don't mess with my husband and kids! I can so quickly pick up an offense on their behalf, get angry, go all "momma bear" in the situation. I'm learning to trust my husband and daughters to resolve those things in their lives that might cause a reaction in me. I read this today and thought I would share with you.
WHAT IS BIBLICAL FORGIVENESS?
By: Rick Warren
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28 (NLT)
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Forgiveness is unconditional. We don’t earn it; we don’t deserve it; we can’t bargain for it. Forgiveness is not based on a promise to never do it again. We offer forgiveness to somebody, whether that person asks for it or not.
When somebody says, “I will forgive you if…,” that’s not forgiveness; that’s bargaining. When Jesus stretched out his hands on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), he took the initiative, not waiting for us to first clean up our lives.
Forgiveness doesn’t minimize the offense. It actually cheapens forgiveness when somebody comes and asks for your forgiveness and you say, “It’s no big deal. It really didn’t hurt. It’s okay. It didn’t really bother me.” If it wasn’t a big deal, you wouldn’t need forgiveness, and you wouldn’t need to offer it. If it really requires forgiveness then you should not minimize it when somebody asks you for forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean the relationship resumes without change. The Bible teaches three things that are essential to resume a relationship that has been broken: repentance, restitution, and rebuilding trust.
You have to be genuinely repentant and truly saddened about what you did. That’s not just saying a quick, “I’m sorry.” It means heart-fully and meaningfully saying, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
Sometimes forgiveness should be accompanied with some sort of physical or material restitution. If I came over to your house and burned it down, it wouldn’t be enough for me to go, “Oops! I’m sorry.” I’d need to assume that debt because I destroyed your house.
When it comes to rebuilding trust, it may take a long, long time. Forgiveness is instant, but trust is something that’s only rebuilt over a period of time. It must be re-earned.
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting what’s happened. You’ve heard this phrase over and over: forgive and forget, forgive and forget. There’s only one problem with it – it’s really difficult to forget a hurt that’s been in your life. It’s like when you go on a diet; you think about food all the time. You think about it more than when you’re not on a diet. The only way you can forget something is to actually refocus on something else.
Focus on how God takes the bad and works it out “for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose …” (Romans 8:28, NLT).
© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.
Rick Warren is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century.