Learning to Forgive

Posted on 06.19.2013

Forgiveness is defined in many ways. I like this one best from Wikipedia: “The renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offence, disagreement or mistake or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.” As Christ followers, we often hear about how important it is to forgive. After years of following Christ, I am concerned that I have learned how to forgive adequately. Don’t get me wrong, I am not walking around openly angry at anyone or anything. Neither am I regularly having conflicts with people. However, like many of you, I have had my share of offenses in life—those I have committed towards others and those committed against me. Being hurt, or hurting others unintentionally is simply part of our lives and our human condition.

I am concerned about two things: the first is, how can I know I have forgiven someone, truly? The reason I ask this question is that I notice that sometimes an offense leaves a scar. I keep noticing the scar and keep trying to tell myself that I do not want another scar. Have I truly forgiven that offense if I am always aware of the scar? Seeing the scar doesn’t make me cry all over again. I just notice it and I notice how the scar inhibits my actions so as to avoid not being hurt again. Have I truly forgiven?

The second thing that concerns me is whether or not I can forgive myself for unintentional offenses I have committed against others. Honestly, I often say to myself, “I wouldn’t want to be my friend either,” referring to the offense I have committed against others. You see, I find it difficult to fully forgive myself. I feel bad about the breach I have created.

How do I overcome these two issues? I could use some Christ-centered ideas!

I am not living with a heavy load of guilt. It feels more like little twinges of pain, here and there. I know that I need to lay these twinges of pain at the foot of the cross daily and allow Christ to settle the issues.

Forgiveness is vital to my walk. I need to forgive because Christ has forgiven me (Ephesians 4:32). I must forgive myself and others so that my prayers will not be hindered (Mark 11;25). I want to forgive and be forgiven through confession so that I may be healed (James 5:16). Finally, I must forgive always because Jesus said so (Matthew 18:21-22)!

Going forward, I will lay down the remnants of unforgiveness for others and for myself at the feet of Jesus. In time, I will be free from the effects of the scars and the twinges of past pain that remain. For, Jesus restores, refreshes and renews relationships. That is called RECONCILIATION.