Forgiveness Is Easy to Read but Hard to Do

The theory of forgiveness is easy to read, hear, and comprehend. This is only one of the main differences between God and humankind. God can forever forget when He forgives with ease; humans cannot.

Not forgiving is perhaps the most destructive action a person can actively participate in. Refusing to forgive others destroys families, friendships, relationships, businesses, churches, etc… It is destructive to one’s self and to all others associated with the unforgiving individual. It is destructive because the resentment suitably influences every aspect of life. The root of all prejudice is firmly rooted in resentment.

What does true forgiveness look like?

What is the practical application of “forgiveness” that can be employed when we lack God’s power of true forgetfulness?

The hardest part of true forgiveness is looking past the error of others and honestly seeing one’s own part in the experience. Humankind has an innate tendency rationalize resentments by looking to and hold responsible other people, places, institutions, or things as the justified cause of their lack of true genuine forgiveness.

On the majority of things in my life, I have been able to forgive and a few forget. However, some resentment remains, to this day; a handful of situations that the forgiveness has not materialized. Just because I can be cordial or social to a person, does not mean I have forgiven them. All it means is I am being social and cordial.

However, Jesus said that unless a person forgives others, God would not forgive them. This is a direct statement, which holds with it the command to forgive everyone or suffer the consequence of no forgiveness from God.

  • Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” (NKJV)
  • Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (NKJV)
  • Matthew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (NKJV)
  • Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (NKJV)
  • Mark 11:26 “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (NKJV)
  • Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NKJV)
  • Luke 11:4 “And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” (NKJV)
  • John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (NKJV)
  • 2 Corinthians 2:10 “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,” (NKJV)

Instead of actively seeking to obey the nine sample biblical directions listed herein to do all we can to forgive, others their mistakes, we as humans like to use the passages such as these two from Luke to self-justify holding onto our resentments.

  • Luke 17:3 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” (NKJV)
  • Luke 17:4 “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” (NKJV)

When a memory is negatively re-felt days, weeks, or years later, that is resentment and the wrong done has not been honestly forgiven.

Resentment simply means to re-feel. Resentment is the best indicator that true forgiveness has not been accomplished. Resentment only hurts the person that is resentful. Many times, forgiveness takes vigorous action on our part and it is not easy to re-feel. We humans re-feel anytime we view an event as being damaging or threatening to our perceived: self-esteem, wallets, ambitions, personal relationships, or romantic relationships.

The practical steps I take to seek salvation from resentment are. (The following list is in column form)

  1. Make a list of whom or what I am angry, sad, or unhappy with. I title the column “I’m aggrieved at.”
  2. Next to the name, I list a column called “The Cause” and place here what I see as the cause of the resentment. Why am I angry?
  3. Next is a column titled “Affects my” and here I list what my perceived injury is. Did the injury frustrate with my self-esteem, my security, my ambitions, or my personal or romantic relations?
  4. The next column takes real self-honesty on my part if I am to be free from the oppression of resentments. First, I need to recognize that no one is perfect. Each person alive has within them, some measure of spiritual infection. So putting out of my mind the apparent wrong, I purposefully look for my own mistakes in the circumstances or leading to the situation. In this, forth column I list where I had been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, or frighten. What part was I to blame? When I see my faults, I list them and honestly admit my wrongs in the matter.
  5. Next, entitled “What Could I have Done Differently” I list each corrective action I should have taken to prevent the situation from ever happening in the first place. What should I have done differently?
  6. The last column is “What Do I need to do To Correct the Situation” and here I list actions which will set right the wrong partially created by my mistakes. Then I actively embark on correcting my own mistakes in the situation, putting out of my mind the harm other has caused me. I call this “cleaning my side of the street.” It is from this last column that I set out and make my personal amends concerning the situation that created the resentment.

Amends is not “I’m Sorry” but real corrective action in order to right my mistakes. Amends, not an apology, is an Old Testament concept that has practical application in the present, to aid in removing culpability, disgrace, shame, and anger towards people, places, and things that held people emotionally enslaved in life.

The forgoing outline is a practical path towards emotional freedom that works when accomplished with true self-honesty. The forgoing list of steps is adapted from the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous and is of benefit for anyone seeking freedom from grudges within their personal life.

What is true forgiveness?

  • It is not thinking away or temporally changing one’s thoughts to avoid the resentment.
  • True forgiveness is an obtainable ideal.
  • True forgiveness is action and requires effort.
  • True forgiveness many times requires hard work.
  • When we take the time and honestly look at our part in our resentments, only then can we start the process of forgiveness.
  • True pardon obtained of forgiveness is reaching the freedom from bondage encircled in all perceived wrongs.
  • True forgiveness takes honest effort and self-evaluation to reach but it is reachable.
  • True forgiveness opens many doors of opportunity and saves families, friendships, relationships, businesses, churches, etc…

Hugs,

Guy Lewis

Payson, Arizona

June 26, 2010

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5 thoughts on “Forgiveness Is Easy to Read but Hard to Do

  1. Pingback: Beat Alcoholism 101

  2. There is a realization that forgiveness from the Father is conditional. First, we must be a Christian, and second, we must be “walking in the light” (1 John 1). If we are involved in a sinful situation that is continual (and therefore, we are unrepentent), then forgiveness does not exist. I think that is where the Luke 17 passage comes into play, as I do not believe that God requires more of us than He does of Himself.

    Far too often, forgiving is stressed over rebuke. The Luke 17 passage calling for rebuke is a command, not a suggestion, and it is there to get a fellow Christian to fully understand that something in their life is amiss. Jesus commands the rebuke so that we can hopefully get the offender to turn from their sins and live as the Father would have them live. Read James 5:19-20 for what I see as a parallel passage. The forgiveness in the Luke passage is conditioned upon repentance by the one who sins. What Jesus does teach there is that when there is true repentance, we are to forgive without limits, just as the Father forgives us without limits.

    Now, having said all of that, there is also a realization that continuing to harbor ill will toward someone else is not healthy. Holding on to those emotions will cause emotional and spiritual stress, and that can affect physical health, too.

    I conclude that when someone wrongs us and does not change, we should make every attempt to tell them of their offense, and encourage them to change their ways by rebuking them. But, for our own good, we ought to put the past behind us, and not let the circumstances of the offense fester like an open wound. That might require ceasing to have any contact with the unrepentent person for our own good.

  3. Guy,
    You have brought up many great points and thoughts. As I reflect on my own experiences, I find that I can forgive most easily when one who has done some perceived harm is repentant and desires forgiveness.

    I can also forgive, whether it is asked for or not, a long past offense which is not likely to be repeated. I know that the offense, if harbored in resentment, is doing much more harm to me than to the offender, so I let it go.

    Where I have the most difficulty in forgiving and letting the resentment go is in situations where the offense is ongoing and is directed toward people I love and care about. I guess I could more accurately say that I can forgive them of the past but feel resentment toward them for the damage that they are continuing to do. The greatest example of this is in the words and actions of our local self-righteous Pharisaical preacher and church. Their actions are so harmful to this community. It makes me sad.

    As far as I can tell, it’s out of my control. For sure, it is beyond my understanding. So, I just keep on moving down the path and hope it will get better with time.

    Thanks again for a great post. Dennis

  4. Guy thank you for a thoughtful post. Forgiveness is HARD especially if the grievance is real rather than imagined. Thank you for the practical suggestions as well. Very helpful.

    Have you ever read Lewis Smedes book The Art of Forgiveness? It is a book with lots of wisdom. I have found it very insightful in dealing with my own struggles to forgive.

  5. Thank you for those wonderful comments and the lesson on forgiveness. I really appreciated what you had to say about resentment and the practical steps to overcome resentment. May the Lord continue to bless you with wisdom and words to share.

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