“…God’s grace and forgiveness, while free to the recipient, are always costly for the giver… From the earliest parts of the Bible, it was understood that God could not forgive without sacrifice. No one who is seriously wronged can “just forgive” the perpetrator… But when you forgive, that means you absorb the loss and the dept. You bear it yourself. All forgiveness, then is costly.” Tim Keller
Forgiveness can be costly. But choosing not to forgive can and will be more harmful to your heart in the long run. Next week, we will take a look at a biblical definition and discussion of what true forgiveness looks like, but for today, I want to continue our clarification on what forgiveness is NOT…
Last week, I shared that forgiveness is NOT forgetting what happened. If forgetfulness is our goal, we will be sadly disappointed. Also, forgiveness is NOT absent of consequences. For a deeper look into these concepts, read here. Let’s look at two more ways to F.A.I.L. at forgiveness.
3. Forgiveness is NOT Ignoring the pain.
Trying to ignore the pain that comes with forgiving someone is like shaking up a can of soda and not expecting it to explode when you open it. The hurts, pains, suffering, and debts in our life often leave scars. I had ACL replacement surgery in my knee back in 2004. I still see the scar every time I bend down to tie my shoe. While Jesus rose from the dead to provide victory over sin, He still had scars in His hands and feet from wear the nails went it during the crucifixion. While some scars are physical, more common are the scars that are etched into our memories, emotions, and our minds. We can have relational scars, and sometimes spiritual scars.
Here’s the thing… scars might describe our past, but they do not determine our present, and they do not dictate our future. Psalm 23 does not say that we walk around the valley of the shadow of death, but rather we walk through valley of the shadow of death, because we have God with us. Stop trying to ignore the pain. Forgiveness is not ignoring the pain, but rather forgiveness is born from the center of our pain.
4. Forgiveness is NOT a License to keep on sinning.
John Piper once said, “Jesus did not come to simply cover sin, but to conquer sin.” Forgiveness is the first step to reconciliation, but reconciliation requires both parties to be involved. Your relationship with the person might not be reconciled immediately (two way), but you can choose to forgive that person now (one way). We should ultimately seek reconciliation and a restored relationship, but understand that forgiveness is just the first step. When you forgive someone, you’re not saying that it’s okay for that person to do the same thing again and again. An interesting contrast can be found in Galatians 6:2 and 6:5. In verse two, we’re called to bear one another’s burdens, but in verse five, everyone must carry their own load. Notice that each person is required to take responsibilities for their own actions (load), but Christians can support and help each other through various difficult problems and circumstances (burdens). Don’t enable a person to continue making poor choices, but rather encourage them to follow the ways of God.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
It is for freedom’s sake that Christ died to set us free.
We’re not called as Christians to be victims. We’re called to be victorious. We’re not called to be cowards. We’re called to be courageous. Forgiveness is often not about the consequences of the person’s actions against you. Instead, forgiveness is about God’s greater sacrifice already made for your sins and the sins of the person who hurt you. Free yourself through learning to forgive others, trusting that any power to forgive comes from the fact that Christ first forgave us. Next week, we’ll dive deeper into what it means to forgive, as I will offer practical steps and suggestions that can help you learn to forgive someone, but for today, remember that…
Forgiveness is NOT (F.A.I.L.)
- Forgetting what happened.
- Absent of consequences.
- Ignoring the pain.
- License to keep on sinning.
What thoughts, comments, and questions do you have on the topic of forgiveness? Please leave a comment below, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will try to address questions in next week’s post. Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and I hope that you found it helpful.
Make it a great day, and God bless!
High School Pastor
North Ridge Community Church