Last night in our couple's Bible study we read and reflected on several Scripture verses on forgiveness. One of our discussions centered on what forgiveness is and isn't. I think this article from Dennis Rainey provides a helpful perspective on that very subject:
I am often reminded of what C. S. Lewis said: "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive." How true. It's not until forgiveness becomes personal and costly that it takes on its actual size and weight.
But perhaps some of what troubles us about forgiveness is that we don't understand what it is ... and what it isn't. Forgiveness doesn't mean:
- Excusing what someone did to you.
- Forgetting what happened.
- Denying, or stuffing, your feelings.
- Reconciling instantly every time.
It does mean:
- Embracing the offender. Christ modeled forgiveness at its best when He forgave and welcomed back those who hurt Him the most.
- Being proactive. When Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34), He was forgiving people before they even asked for it.
- Surrendering the right to get even. The essence of forgiveness, especially in marriage, is letting go of our rights to punish and see justice done. Forgiveness is evident when one spouse ceases to demand restitution for hurt feelings and wounded pride.
At the end our Bible study, while we all agreed it's not the easiest thing to do -- forgive or ask for forgivness -- we believe it's a vital step toward deepening our relationship with our spouse and with God.
So as we prepare to celebrate the ultimate story of forgiveness this Resurrection Sunday, let us ...
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col. 3:13-14)
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