The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines forgiveness as a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
Forgiveness empowers us to recognize the pain we’ve suffered without letting that pain define us. It frees us from damaging emotions and can reduce symptoms of trauma, anger, anxiety and depression. Forgiveness enables us to rise above the situation, be healed and walk in freedom.
Repeatedly, scripture tells us to forgive one another. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” We have been given much in the way of forgiveness, and much is expected from us in return. Though forgiveness often is difficult, to be unforgiving is to disobey God and depreciate the greatness of His gift.
Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who teach forgiveness make clear that when we forgive, we are not denying the seriousness of an offense against us. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing wrongs. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it does not obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you.
Unforgiveness robs us of the full life God intended for us. Unforgiveness can fester into a lifetime of bitterness. We must make a conscious decision to be better, not bitter. Matthew 6:14 says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.”
WHAT FORGIVENESS IS
- Letting go of resentment, anger, and hostility toward someone who treated you unfairly
- A mental shift, a change of heart, which develops over time
- A personal decision that only you can make — no one can make you forgive.
- Primarily for YOU
WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT
- Pretending like nothing happened — we need to retain the lesson learned without holding on to the pain it caused.
- Something you do for the other person
- A feeling or emotion
- Condoning, approving of or excusing what happened
God’s love is unconditional. His forgiveness is amazing and is offered to anyone who genuinely asks for it. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins. This is why Jesus died on the cross for us and shed His precious blood — so that we can be forgiven and have a personal relationship with Him. Aren’t you thankful that He forgives us freely?
Say it with me: I choose to forgive!