Tag: Forgiveness (page 1 of 2)

Forgiving Yourself

Linda B – I am having trouble forgiving myself. What can I do?

Dave – Great question, and many Christians have said they still need to do this, but it is never mentioned in the Scriptures as something we need to do. Our sins were not against us, they were against others but ultimately against God. God says He has forgiven and removed all our sin and iniquity (sinful state of being). Therefore, if we have truly believed and received His forgiveness, there is nothing more for us to do except forgive others who sin against us. I think if a believer feels they still need to forgive themselves, they have not yet fully received His forgiveness OR, and this is most likely, they are listening to a demonic spirit of condemnation. If so, Romans 8:1 needs to be quoted to that spirit as the thought enters our mind. I’ve used it often. It works.

Linda B – Thank you. I believe you’re right about the demonic spirit. I will keep that verse on my fridge and my bedroom mirror. 🙂

Feedback:

Mark D – I agree that much of the problem of not forgiving ourselves is simply not accepting God’s forgiveness. Sometimes we feel so bad about things that we resist His forgiveness. Sometimes we are so appalled at ourselves that we refuse such a free gift, and still feel in our hearts that somehow we have to work for forgiveness (“It can’t be that easy!” we think.) Sometimes our pride is hit so hard by what we did that we can’t process what we’ve really done–and its repercussions on others or even ourselves. We have to humble ourselves to accept His free give of forgiveness sometimes, and that can often take some time.

How Do We Know We’ve Really Forgiven Someone?

We often say we have forgiven someone. But have we really? How can we be sure? It is crucial to us that we forgive people who have wronged us, and the forgiveness must be from our heart (complete). God says to us, “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26). Ouch!

If we wonder whether or not we have really forgiven someone, we can allow the Holy Spirit to ask us the
following insightful questions:
1) Are we willing to pray for that person’s welfare?
2) Are we willing to help and do good for that person?
3) Are we willing not to gossip about that person, especially when their name comes up in a conversation?
4) Are we willing to ask God not to punish them or hold anything against them for what they did to us?
5) Do we have inner peace about it?
6) Are we still “grinding an ax” against them in our thought life?

We can forgive someone and yet still not want to be around them due to what they stand for or what they do. Forgiving someone also does not mean that we trust them either. Some people will not repent or change for the better. I don’t see the Bible telling us we have to yoke ourselves with them. I guess I would call this “forgiving from a distance.” In most cases, however, we will be side-by-side with those who have offended us from time to time and we must be willing to forgive.

Are there levels of forgiveness? My initial thought is that we either we do it or we don’t. I guess I still stand by that, but I also realize that there are degrees of “aftermath” from an incident. Trust, for example, may take a long time to be restored, if ever. God never tells us to trust in any human, however. There may be long-lasting repercussions resulting from the offense and the forgiver must work through those things.

If we struggle with forgiving someone, it may reflect some problems with RECEIVING God’s forgiveness for ourselves. This does not involve us forgiving ourselves. Surprisingly, the Bible never tells us to do this. If we are in Christ, our sin as been resolved (Romans 8:1). The closer we are to Him, and the more we realize how much we have been forgiven, the more love and ability to forgive others we have (Luke 7:47). Therefore, the solution to this problem may be repenting, getting into His Word, and allow His love to flood us. When we love Him, we love others (1 John 2:9-12).

If any of you readers feel you have not forgiven someone as you think about this topic, I strongly urge
you to go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you, if you think you just cannot forgive someone. I’ve
had to do this on two occasions. It worked both times. Thank God, I am free. No unforgiveness or
bitterness is chaining me down.


Feedback:
P.T. – This is a tough one, Dave. I recently have been visiting an Urban church that has just gone through a split. The pastor is trying to salvage what is left of the church and is preaching on forgiving one another and going to them and reconcile. Looks like pride is the problem, and I say that because it is what “I” do, a lot. I don’t want to carry the burden of someone who differs from me and yet I know that if I separate from them I am no better than the pagan who readily writes someone off they don’t agree with. I tried to mention the beatitudes of loving one’s enemies to a group at this church and was readily put in my place and told boundaries were violated and separation is called for sometimes. Yes, if violence or abuse is the problem, but I will continue to do good and remember that it cost God a lot to forgive me–His own Son. God did not give up on me, neither will I others and bear the burden, a cross, to love others as God loved me.

Dave to P.T. – Thanks for your comments. I cannot comment about that church split and the so-called
“boundaries that were violated” because I do not know enough about that situation, but it seems to me that you have the right attitude and solution. First, you see and admit to wrong attitudes that you can have.
Most people do not. Second, you have tried to make peace. Jesus calls you blessed for that. Third,
“violating boundaries” is not up there with blaspheming the Holy Spirit, so I hope they can seek God and
ask His help to make things right.

Patricia P. – This is an issue I’ve been struggling with for the last few months. A very good friend has been stealing from me. She’s been a friend for years and we had this same problem 2 years ago. We didn’t see or speak to each other for several months back then. I read my Bible a lot, especially about forgiving, and finally went to see her. She admitted what she’d done and promised it would never happen again. I forgave her, we talked, cried, and became really close again. She spends a lot of time in my home and, many times she’s inside my house while I’m outside doing yard work. I started noticing a few things missing but nothing too big or important to me so I kind of let it slide. I began getting nervous and uptight, telling myself that it couldn’t possibly be happening again. A couple of weeks later, I purposely left a few things out in the open while I went outside. After she left, I went to see if my things were still where I left them and they were gone. I was shocked, saddened, and heartbroken. I talked about it with my sister, who was surprised I forgave her the first time. I told my sis that I have again forgiven my old friend, but I can no longer be friends with her. She’s no longer welcome in my home. I miss her terribly but am getting used to not having her around. I don’t trust her at all now and just can’t be her friend and welcome her in my home. I feel terrible about it but it has to be this way. Do you think I’m doing the right thing? The whole thing really bothers me a lot but I just can’t see her or be around her anymore.

Dave – Thanks for the great question. Overall, I think you’ve done well with your situation. My first question is what did you talk about when confronting her that first time? Do you know why she stole from you. Friends don’t steal from friends unless drug abuse is involved. Your friend obviously has a serious problem and needs help. It doesn’t sound like she steals money from you but, of course she could be selling them for money. Is she willing to get help? Pray that she gets it.

As far as allowing her in your home is concerned, I agree with what you have made clear to her. As I’ve said, forgiving is not necessarily equated with trusting. If you’re concerned about not having a close friend, ask God to provide one. He loves His kids, and you are one of His kids.

In His Love,
Dave

Patricia P. – She was stealing my pain medication and once in a while loose change from my change bank. The drugs were the big thing though. I guess I didn’t help though since there a few times when I could see she was in a lot of pain, I’d give her one of my pills. Then, she started asking me for them and I asked her to stop asking and that I shouldn’t have given her any since I short myself. She seemed to understand and said she wouldn’t ask anymore. That’s when I started noticing my supply was dwindling. I actually caught her one day and told her to leave my house and not to come back.

Months later I went to see her and she cried, we talked and she admitted to taking the pills. he apologized up and down and said it would never happen again. Again, I gave her a pill every now and then since I knew she was in pain. She’s been to the emergency room many times for severe neck and back pain, had MRI’s and was told she had serious problems in her neck. She’s never gone to see doctors because she doesn’t have a primary care doctor who could refer her to specialists.

Long story short, she began taking my pills again, and even coming to my house when I wasn’t home and using my back door to get in. I caught her again and this time just had to make a final break and not see her anymore. I still miss her company a lot but have to get over it. I pray for her a lot and ask God if I’m doing the right thing. She was beginning to come to church with me and we talked about reading the Bible. She knows I read mine every day and she started asking me questions. I’m sad about not being able to bring her to church anymore but if I do that, I’ll start things up all over again and I just can’t do that. I tried to get her to go to a doctor and get some help with her pain but she doesn’t want to spend the money. I guess it’s her choice. I have forgiven her but can’t be around her anymore.

Dave – If she is willing to go to church with you, and if she is asking questions about our faith, I suggest going to your pastor and see if he could organize some folks to give money for your friend’s doctor appointment. If money is collected for her, I would not give her the cash. Someone can hold it for her, go with her to the appointment, and pay the doctor for her. This would be a good witness to the love and care Christians have for others. It also may cause your friend to come to church more and read the Bible for herself. Our church has a separate fund for these kinds of cases, maybe yours does too. It’s worth finding out.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as “to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt.”

What does the Bible tell us?

“So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts” (Matt 18:35).

“Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt 18:21-22).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“And whensoever ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any one; that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

“In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians. 1:7).

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (2 Cor. 2:10)

“But to whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, for your sakes” (Matt 6:12).

“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26).


Some Q & A:

  1.  Why is it so hard for humans to forgive and forget? Pride, self-justification, we need God to help us do it. Depending on the offense, we may not forget, but Scripture does not demand us to forget, or even trust a person.
  2. What are some techniques we use to forgive? Picturing ourselves helping that person, praying for them, meditating upon how much we have been forgiven by God. Think of the nature of the offense and then think about when we have done the same thing against God.
  3. How should we forgive (via phone, email, in person) and does one carry more weight? Depends on situation. When feasible, in-person usually is the best. However, in some cases, telling someone you have forgiven them may not be well received if the offender does not perceive his/her offense. In these cases, I wouldn’t communicate the issue to them. Rather pray for them and enjoy your personal freedom from resentment.
  4. When is the right time to forgive? The sooner the better so resentment does not set in.
  5. What are the signs that we have truly forgiven someone? No inner angst when thinking about the person and we do not talk behind their backs.
  6. What about forgetting offenses? The Bible does not say we must forget sins against us. Forgetting is possible in some cases, but deeper affronts will be remembered. The issue is whether or not the “ax is still grinding” inside. Do we still hold something “over their head” because of their offense? God will let us know if we are hanging on to something wrongly.
  7. Why does God demand we keep forgiving repeat offenses? Because He has forgiven our repeated offenses against Him.

Perks of forgiving = the offender loses power to control our mental state, keeps us humble, the alternative
(resentment/bitterness) hurts us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Bottom Line = we need to reflect our Father in heaven so others can know Him, and being able to forgive “is divine,” as Alexander Pope once said. Sometimes we struggle with forgiving but I think our Father looks forward to doing it. We need to get so close to Him that we enjoy it as well and become more like Him.

Since God says He won’t forgive us our sins if we do not forgive others, what happens if we hold on to some, or die before forgiving people? The Bible does not make it clear that this would mean hell for us. It does talk about the “Judgment Seat of Christ” that all believers will stand before on that Big Day. This judgment differs from the “Lake of Fire” judgment. So we might assume that some of our reward will not be in eternity because of this issue. If this interpretation is correct, it is impossible for us to quantify this so-called eternal loss. I hasten to add, however, if a person professes to believe in Jesus, but has not forgiven hardly anyone else during life on earth, then I would call into question his/her salvation.

Further Insight – forgiving is a choice, not an emotion, God gives us the ability that we do not have (this is what grace is), so if we choose to forgive, He helps us pull it off.

Aren’t there certain things so terrible that we should not be expected to forgive? I’ve searched the Scriptures daily like those faithful Bereans and have never found this list yet. If women who have been raped can forgive their rapists (and some have), then I should think that anything can be forgiven through the grace of God. He makes all things possible.

Conclusion – Being able to forgive others reflects our relationship with a great God whom we realize has forgiven us a great amount of sin. This was a major part of the prayer that Jesus taught better known as “The Our Father.” The key seems to be whether or not we are willing to forgive someone. If yes, then we can ask God to help us if certain things are difficult to get past. He will give us the ability to forgive if we love Him. Scripture also states that God does not remember our sin. I’m not sure if that is literal or if it means He does not remind us about them nor hold them against us forever. I think it is safe to believe that He views us as though we had never sinned. In and through Christ, we can view others this same way.


Feedback:

NF – Well done!

AS – Great insight, brother.

GR – Dave, thank you for your continued Ministry. I KNOW THIS:
without TRUE forgiveness I would have no wife no family and no marriage,
without TRUE forgiveness I would have no friends,
without TRUE forgiveness I would have no employees,
without TRUE forgiveness my twins would not have been born.

I think the key to all life, relationships, family and true happiness is forgiveness.

PT – Love what you said about forgiveness, especially some of the Q&A responses. Sometimes I seem to struggle with a recurring spirit of unforgiveness and must continue to forgive over and over. That is, I have truly forgiven someone of an offense in the past, but the offense will come to mind and it seems I have to remind myself I will not hold on to this offense any longer. Any comments?

Dave to PT – Thanks for your comments and transparency. We can all learn and grow more in Christ when brothers and sisters are honest about their struggles. About recurring “cringes,” I usually think about all the sins God has forgiven me, especially those that I’ve done repeatedly. This helps me put my mind in a perspective that I can more easily forgive others.

FD – Thanks for the insights on forgiveness. This topic has been a problem for me and I am meditating on
all you’ve said and it is really helping.

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