“For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 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, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices”. 2 Corinthians 2:9-11
There are many reasons why people do not want to forgive.
The offender has not asked to be forgiven.
The offender is not worthy of forgiveness.
The offended believe that issuing forgiveness will cause them to be abused again.
The offended believe that deserved justice will not be administered if they forgive.
Forgiveness is just too hard.
These are a few reasons we choose not to forgive.
The scripture we read in 2 Corinthians reminds us that forgiveness is an act of obedience. We know that God asks us to do some things that are hard and forgiveness is hard but why would He ask us to do something so illogical?
Isn’t forgiveness earned? Shouldn’t the person confess and repent of their wrong before forgiveness is given? Otherwise, what redeeming value comes from forgiving them? If I forget the wrong, won’t I open myself to further abuses of similar nature? What about the restitution that is owed by the offender? Won’t my forgiveness release them from the responsibility they have toward me?
These type of questions often serve as a roadblock to forgiving someone who has offended us or wounded us. Let me address a few of these quickly.
Many reject forgiveness toward an offender (even when that offender is looking at them in the mirror!) because they believe the extension of forgiveness will nullify justice that should be dispensed in the situation. Think of this: justice is a necessary component of moral perfection. Who is morally perfect? God is! You cannot separate justice from moral perfection. Forgiveness does not negate justice because justice is a part of God’s character and He does not change! (Mal. 3:6) Justice is released upon an offender based upon several factors but your forgiveness is not one of those! Your forgiveness of those who have offended you does not erase the justice needed in the situation. One of the factors determining God’s justice of an offender is their own repentance. If they truly repent, He will forgive. Part of true repentance is the act of restitution. If your offender truly asks God’s forgiveness, He will forgive and instruct them to make restitution for what has been unfairly taken.
Repentance and forgiveness are twin sisters; wherever you find one, you find the other! If you repent, God will forgive you. You cannot experience forgiveness without repentance. But, think of this: you cannot forgive without first repenting! Before we forgive, we must repent of our judgments, our lack of humility and our lack of trust in God! If we are unforgiving, we are in an unrepentant state ourselves! We are as guilty as the person we are judging! Repentance without forgiveness is a rejection of grace! (Think of that next time you offend yourself too!) If you repent, God forgives you. The two sisters live together! But, if you reject forgiveness toward your offender, your repentance moves out with here! Read Matthew 18:21-35 for further study.
Holding on to unforgiveness does not protect us. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Unforgiveness “walls” in the hurt caused by the offense. It keeps it “alive” in our lives and effects every decision we make. Unforgiveness is not “wisdom” as some declare. You’ve heard some say, “Boy, I’ve learned from that! I’ll never let anyone do that to me again!” If you use unforgiveness as a “discernment tool”, you open one door and close another.
The door you open is to a constant state of trying to “fix” what has happened to you. This sends you on an endless journey of “good works” to find relief from your pain; works like starting a ministry or organization to bring justice to your pain. Or, you might seek someone who in some way has the same dysfunction as your offender and try to “fix” them thinking this will heal your pain. Neither will help at all. You must deal with the original situation or you stay broken.
The door you close is the door of intimacy. The pain of the offense will cause you to close doors to your heart due to your lack of trust. Protecting yourself becomes your only salvation. Remember:
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:25-26
If your focus is to protect yourself instead of trusting God’s protection and healing and wisdom, you will lose life, peace, and joy in your soul. You can preach to others and be dying yourself!
The case against Unforgiveness is staggering! It is a device of Satan! Judge it as unworthy of your time and resources and cast it from your life! Your freedom depends on it!