What do forgive means to you? Do you truly understand the definition of forgiving? Based on my countless conversation with friends, even Christians and I have heard them, saying in front of me:
- I forgive him/her but…
- I forgive him/her, but I cannot forget the horror moment he/she did to me
- I forgive him/her, but I hope they got the punishment they deserved
- I forgive him/her, but look at them, they continue to enjoy the life to the fullest as I am suffering!
- I forgive him/her, but I wanted them to suffer for what they did to me!
Do any of those related to what you have told them? I believe that many of us have failed to define forgive!
I decided to check on the definition of forgiving on Merriam-Webster app on my iPhone. I was so stunned how we misinterpreted the true definition of forgive because common conversation by saying “I forgive him/her but…” do not make sense! Let me tell you why!
Merriam-Webster is one of the most reliable dictionaries with very clear definition of a term. There is no deny about this term, forgive! I would like to narrow the focus on forgive in biblical viewpoint.
Old Testament and New Testament frequently mentioned forgiveness as foundation of relationship with God. It is called divine forgiveness, which restores the broken relationship with God, which brought the whole point to Jesus in New Testament. Jesus came to restore the broken bridge between God and humankind. The true definition of divine forgiveness in God’s eyes is pardon, let it go, get off the hook, to set free, and release.
Refusal of forgiving others will create great roadblocks in your life. The best examples of roadblocks are: being the prison of hate and bitterness, anger at God, stuck in self-righteousness behavior, being scared of becoming doormat, and confusion of forgiveness with reconciliation. All of these will bring no peace in your soul or will not live up to the true happiness of your life.
Keep in mind, forgiving others is not all about forgetting what others have done to you, but it helps release you from bitterness and anger and be free from living in the past where the hurt has been originated from. God forgave us and will not use sins against us what we did in past because God forgives us and heals us which is part of maintaining true intimacy relationship with God. So therefore when forgiving others, we need to stop using their sins against them what they did in the past.
It is no wonder Jesus used parable about the unforgiving debtor as he said:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who decided to collect the money his servants owed him. When the king began to collect his money, a servant who owed him several million dollars was brought to him. But the servant did not have enough money to pay, his master, the king. So the master ordered that everything the servant owned should be sold, even the servant’s wife and children. Then the money would be used to pay the king what the servant owed. “But the servant fell on his knees and begged, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything I owe.’ The master felt sorry for his servant and told him he did not have to pay it back. Then he let the servant go free. “Later, that same servant found another servant who owed him a few dollars. The servant grabbed him around the neck and said, ‘Pay me the money you owe me!’ “The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything I owe.’ “But the first servant refused to be patient. He threw the other servant into prison until he could pay everything he owed. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very sorry. So they went and told their master all that had happened. “Then the master called his servant in and said, ‘You evil servant! Because you begged me to forget what you owed, I told you that you did not have to pay anything. You should have showed mercy to that other servant, just as I showed mercy to you.’ The master was very angry and put the servant in prison to be punished until he could pay everything he owed. “This king did what my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Matthew 18:23-35 (NCV)
The danger about the refusal of forgiving others will actually hurt the healthy relationship with your loved one, family members, friends, and even coworkers where bitterness and anger will bring much displacement anger upon them.
Neil T. Anderson, the founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries and also authored numerous of Christ-centered living books quoted in one of his books called Victory Over The Darkness:
We must base our relationship with others on the same criteria on which God bases His relationship with us: love, acceptance and forgiveness.
In God’s eyes, forgiveness is not an option, having a relationship with God is part of the true love experience where it enhances us to forgive others who has hurt us in the past.
The biggest challenge for yourself and even myself, are we willing to forgive terrorists, pedophiles, rapists, and convicts? It is a painful step in the recovery journey, but it will help us the complete freedom in Christ into a new image in God’s eyes. It is because we are children of God. Keep in mind, forgiving others is not express lane recovery, it could be short term or long term recovery journey.
Forgiving others is centric of the inner healing journey!