In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus highlights the importance of us forgiving others when he teaches us to pray: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12). Forgiveness is easy to talk about but very difficult to do. Here are three hurdles that keep us from forgiving others:
1. We have the wrong idea about forgiveness. “Forgiveness” can be a loaded and confusing word today because we load it with our own ideas of what forgiveness is. There are several wrong ideas we have about forgiveness:
- Forgiveness is not minimizing the offense. We think that when we forgive we’re saying that what they did wasn’t a big deal, but it is and always will be. If your parents got a divorce, if you were sexually assaulted, that will always be a big deal. Forgiveness is not minimizing the offense.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. Some think that to forgive we have to forget, and if we still remember we can’t forgive. That’s not it at all.
- Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that everything is rainbows and unicorns and you’re best friends again. Reconciliation happens when there’s repentance (a change in behavior), restitution (making things right when possible) and rebuilding trust, which takes time. Forgiveness is not necessarily reconciliation, but it can definitely lead to reconciliation.
2. We don’t think it’s fair. Many of us struggle with forgiveness because in our minds it’s not fair. It’s not fair that they did that to me and now I’m supposed to forgive them and let them get away with it. Well, if you think forgiveness isn’t fair . . . you’re absolutely right. Forgiveness isn’t fair. But, let me say this: things haven’t been fair in a very very long time, all the way back to the Garden of Eden. And secondly, aren’t you glad God wasn’t fair when He decided that anyone who believed in Jesus could be saved and forgiven, not just the ones who were good enough?
3. We don’t think we can do it. For some of you, you’ve held onto unforgiveness for so long, you don’t think you can move on. You don’t think you can do it. The hurt is too deep. The pain stretches too far into your past. Maybe it would just be easier to hold onto the pain. That is a lie from the enemy. Know this:
- Forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice. You don’t forgive someone because you feel like it. Guess when you ever feel like forgiving someone? Never! You forgive someone when you choose to forgive them.
In my next post I’ll share four steps to truly forgive someone. I pray that it can help someone begin to release their hurt through forgiveness!