The Pain Of Unforgiveness
Forgiveness is both given and received. The need for pardon, mercy, compassion, and understanding is a cry to return to normalcy. Many times, forgiveness is not granted, which brings on the pain of unforgiveness.
The Choice To Forgive
When we petition for forgiveness, the offended party has a choice to make. Sometimes the choice is relatively easy. Sometimes it becomes one of the hardest decisions they have been called to make. Several factors comes into play:
Relinquishing Of Rights
- How grievous was the offense?
- Is this their first offence?
- What is the relationship between the offended and the person seeking forgiveness?
- Are they sincere?
- Does the person making the choice have an understanding of the biblical teaching on forgiveness?
Forgiveness relinquishes the right to retaliation. In a sense, it places the offending party in the hands of God. In so doing, the healing process has begun. It isn’t always easy to forgive. Revenge is ingrained into the heart of man. After all, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This, however, is not a New Testament understanding of forgiveness.
Forgive, And The Father Will Also Forgive You
Immediately after Jesus taught on prayer, He spoke on the need to forgive those who have trespassed against us. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
How Many Times?
Peter realized the need to forgive but now sought to find the outer limit of forgiveness. He asked, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” (Mat 18:21). Adam Clarke’s commentary says, “It was a maxim among the Jews never to forgive more than thrice: Peter enlarges this charity more than one half.” Peter thought that seven times for the same offence by the same person was an expression of compassion. Seven is considered a divine number—the number of completeness. Jesus was not impressed by Peter’s math.
God’s Formula On Forgiveness
Jesus countered with seven times 70. Imagine Peter’s response: “Really, 490 times? Isn’t that a little extreme?” In reality, Jesus wasn’t expecting us to keep count. The idea was that we should always forgive. After all, we have no doubt asked God for forgiveness countless times for the same offence and have received it.
The Pain Of Not Being Forgiven
We have all experienced the pain of a rejected apology. No matter how contrite we are, the other person refuses to forgive us. How we wish we could go back and undo the wrong, but we cannot. We live with our regrets and sorrows.
Forgiveness Does Not Mean Restored Fellowship
We are commanded to forgive, no matter what the offence is, but we are not commanded to restore fellowship. An abused child forgives so that he could heal, but no one is suggesting that he place himself in danger through restored fellowship. We don’t forgive for the other person’s wellbeing; we do so for our own physical and spiritual well-being.
The Physical Cost Of Not Forgiving
There is pain when we refuse to forgive. Every time their name is mentioned, we relive the pain. Constant anxiety produces physical issues. Dr. Michael Berry, the author of the book, The Forgiveness Project says, “Of all cancer patients, 61 percent have forgiveness issues, and of those, more than half are severe.” Greater still is the spiritual damage. “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14).
Do yourself a favor—forgive.