The command for us to forgive one another is a theme that runs through the Bible from beginning to end. But, for as powerful as forgiveness can be in our lives, there are some things it cannot do…
Here are the Five Things Forgiveness DOES NOT DO…
Forgiveness does not minimize whatever occurred. I used to think you should only forgive if it was “no big deal”. Though that may seem like a great idea initially, it does not work. The greater the offense, the more likely you are to not want to forgive it. In reality, these offenses need to be forgiven the most. It did happen and it needs to be forgiven to move ahead.
Forgiveness does not restore trust. Just because you forgive someone does not mean that you will have the same level of trust you had before the offense. Forgiveness can happen instantly, but trust will take time. We can’t move ahead like nothing has happen because it did happened and it did have an effect. A friend of mine was molested by a family member as a minor. Though he forgave the offender their relationship was altered. Though he forgave his uncle he should not let his son stay at the uncle’s house. I think you understand what I am saying.
Forgiveness does not eliminate consequences. If I walk into a bank with a gun in my hand and rob the place that will create its own set of consequences. Suppose I get away with it, go home and really feel bad about what I’ve done. Let’s say I get on my knees and ask God to forgive me. I realize that I need to return all of the money and turn myself into the police. Though I turn myself in voluntarily, I will still have to stand before the judge and accept the penalty of my wrong doing.
Forgiveness does not mean it will be easy. Even to say that is an understatement. Some people struggle for years to forgive an offense that was done to them. They experience things that are beyond my comprehension: the murder of a child, the loss of a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver, and more. Forgiving the offense may be hardest thing about going through it.
Forgiveness does not solve everything. As a kid I remember reading stories that finished with, “and they lived happily ever after.” The greater the offense the less the likelihood that we can move ahead like nothing ever happened. For parents who lose children, forgiving the offense does not bring the child back. They can’t just go and get another child and the loss be replaced. The hurt will always be there but forgiveness can help it lose its grip on us.
Forgiveness should be a part of our lives, both giving and receiving it. Living a life without it will breed bitterness and resentment. Make forgiveness a part of your life today. It won’t solve all your problems but it will make them more manageable.
What has been the most difficult thing you had to forgive?