Is it possible for a person to forgive the unforgivable by someone they once trusted and loved? Yes! Through the grace of God, it’s possible to ignore even the worse of offenses. But because there are many myths out there, it’s essential to understand the truth about forgiveness.
- Forgiveness always involves the moral side of life. It consists of a sense of right and wrong, fairness and justice. It also includes a sense of love, compassion, and mercy. When someone violates a person with a seemingly unforgivable act, at least some of the victim’s values have been broken.
- No matter how just it may seem, revenge can never bring satisfaction. After all, it can never replace what has been destroyed. It also brings the offended down to the level of the offender. Staying with vengeful thoughts is like playing an endless—and painful—video repeatedly.
- In Colossians 2:13, Paul describes forgiveness, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins.” However, some want to make certain things unforgivable.
- “Forgive and forget” is a common belief that keeps many from forgiving in the first place. God forgives and forgets (Jeremiah 31:34, Ps. 103:12), so many think they should, too. But “forgive and remember” is the true way to healing. When someone experiences real forgiveness, there is more to remember than pain. They should remind themselves of what God has done and is doing in their lives through His forgiveness.
- Forgiving other people does not in any way benefit or let them off the hook. Forgiveness frees the victim from the expectation of restitution for the wrongs done to them. It allows the offended to cancel the debt the offender owes them, which in all probability, they can never repay anyway.
- For genuine reconciliation to happen, the person offended needs to forgive, and the offender needs to show godly sorrow over what they have done. God requires every believer to forgive, but reconciliation is optional. After all, reconciliation depends on the offender’s attitude.
- A person tends to choose the path of bitterness when they get caught up with wanting to understand the reasons for the offense. They think if they could only understand why the offender did what they did, they could get over it and let it go—it leads to isolation and aloneness as they obsess over the painful event.
- Be careful not to take forgiveness out of its spiritual context because forgiveness is best understood in the context of God’s forgiveness. The theological and spiritual roots of forgiveness are what give it its healing power. Apart from that, it can be a helpful tool but never to the same degree as when it is connected to the reality of God’s forgiveness.
- Forgiveness is not a simple process. Sometimes a miracle occurs. But other times, a person plods along toward forgiveness. Nevertheless, God always honors the move toward forgiveness; it is His plan for every person.
- When one forgives, they allow God to work miracles in His way and His time.
Adapted from Forgiving What You’ll Never Forget by Dr. Dave Stoop