Forgiveness – a word so familiar yet so hard to apply and often misunderstood. Here’re some familiar misconception of what forgiveness means:
1. Forgiveness is NOT conditional. We often thought that a person who offended us needs to repent and ask for forgiveness first before we forgive. The thing is, forgiveness is totally independent of them, it is all about you who are offended releasing that forgiveness even before the offender asks for it.
2. Forgiveness isn’t minimizing the seriousness of the offense. “Its ok, I forgive you. Its nothing anyway”, is a common thought. The reality is, if its worth forgiving, it must have hurt you. Leave it that way, because you don’t have to minimize the offense for you to forgive.
3. Forgiveness isn’t resuming a relationship without changes. After the forgiveness has been delivered, it is not expected that the relationship damaged by the offense will be back to normal instantly. It’ll take time to build trust again.
4. Forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened. The truth is, you’ll never forget. But you can forgive, remember the offense but not feel the hurt.
5. Forgiveness is not your right when you’re no the one hurt. Only offended persons can deliver forgiveness.
What then is genuine forgiveness? How can I effectively release my hurt by forgiving the person who hurt me?
Remember how much you’ve been forgiven. When Christ died, he paid your past, present and future sins. No matter how big your sins are, Christ has forgiven you. By remembering the forgiveness you received from God, you will realize how undeserving you are to receive that forgiveness, which means you also need to forgive the person who offended you no matter how undeserving he is.
Relinquish your right to get even. Forgiveness is letting God do the pay back part of the process. Paul said, “… never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God…” Rom. 12:19
Responding to evil with good. It is always a temptation to repay the bad things done to us by a corresponding bad thing. On the other hand, forgiveness is repaying evil with good. Jesus said, “… do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
Repeat the process as long as it takes. When Jesus said you need to forgive 70 times 7 (Matt 18-21-22), he simply means, forgive as long as there is hurt. Forgiveness is an endless process. We need to release forgiveness as long as it takes because God himself does that to us – we keep repeating the same mistake yet God still forgives.