Forgiveness isn’t optional.

I threw away most of the notes I took during Bible College, but this teaching hit home for me as a survivor of childhood and domestic assault. I discovered a long time ago that forgiveness ties us to our offenders and that letting go of our pre-conceived right to resent them holds us back while they go on their way. Forgiveness is for us, not them. It frees us of the hold they have on our hearts, our innocence, and our growth.

Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. Forgiveness is costly; we pay the price of the evil we forgive. Yet we’re going to live with these consequences whether we want to or not. Our only choice is whether we will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness.

An unforgiving spirit destroys respect.

We cannot forgive while we’re hanging on to our rights and our sense of injury. We cannot forgive without consenting to suffer the loss ourselves.

See yourself standing in a circle which is called the will of God. Nothing therefore can touch you from outside the circle, unless it has first penetrated that circle. The thing in question may be hurtful, unfair, and callous, but no matter how it originated, by the time it has reached you it has passed through the circle of the will of God; it has become God’s will for you; it has been permitted for wise and good purposes of His own. Therefore, by resenting and refusing it, you are in reality rebelling against God and His will.

In forgiveness, God is not asking us to do anything which He has not done for us to an infinitely greater degree.

What then is forgiveness? It is a miracle of grace whereby the offense no longer separates. The offense is real, and the hurt is real, but forgiveness means that this real and horrible offense shall not separate us. Forgiveness means that the power of love that holds us together is greater than the power of the offense that separates us. That is forgiveness. In forgiveness we are releasing our offenders so that they are no longer bound to us. In a very real sense, we are freeing them to receive God’s grace.

There is no torment like the inner torment of an unforgiving spirit. It refuses to be soothed; it refuses to be healed; it refuses to forget.

When tragedy comes into your life, allow yourself to grieve. It is a God-given source of healing. Refusing to grieve can harden the heart.

Embrace the hurts of life. God is in them. Allow His purposes to triumph.

Forgiveness is crucial. Not only should it be felt, but it needs to be expressed. Without it, we cannot move on. If we desire to grow, mature, and become more like God, we need to let go of the hurts and offenses that shaped us and let God do His work in our lives.

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