There’s a reason you and I struggle with forgiveness, but I don’t think it’s because of how deeply we’re been wounded by another.

The main reason we often don’t forgive those who offend us is because we have several misconceptions about what forgiveness really means.

Do any of these conditions (or excuses) sound like yours?

  • I’m still dealing with the consequences of how that person hurt me, so I’m not about to forgive that person.
  • Why should I forgive a person who has never apologized?
  • I’ll forgive him when he proves that he has changed.
  • What that person did to me wasn’t right so I can’t bring myself to let him/her off the hook.
  • Why should I forgive a betrayal and unrepentant?

The concept of forgiveness is one of the core doctrines of Christianity. It is quite difficult, and in some ways impossible, if we believe, we might first receive an apology from the person who offended us. Likewise, we will have difficulty forgiving another person. If we are expecting that person to show remorse or evidence of having changed; we can also tend to believe that if we forgive someone, we are giving them a license to hurt us again. Mostly, we withhold our forgiveness because we don’t feel like the person deserves it.

We remain in chains of emotional bondage to those we refuse to forgive. By withholding forgiveness we are saying “You will never be able to make this right”. But what we are ultimately saying is: “I will always hold unto this pain” when you’re stuck like that you end up living with the burden of bitterness. Instead, you can live freely by freely forgiving. When God forgave us of the debt of our sin, He expected us to then forgive others of their debt toward us (Eph. 4:32)

Here are some misconceptions we have about forgiveness that often make it difficult for us to forgive someone:

  1. We think forgiveness is excusing a person or letting them off the hook: when we admit that our offense was real, it hurt and it’s inexcusable but so is our offense to God, we can forgive another person just as God has forgiven us.
  2. We think we can forgive only when the offense no longer hurts: what can heal our hurts speedily is when we choose to forgive. You will begin to heal emotionally when you release that hurt or make things right again.
  3. We think we must wait for an apology: If an apology by the offender were necessary in order for you to forgive, then you would never be able to forgive someone in order for you to forgive, then you would never be able to forgive someone who has died and never come clean with you. We are commanded to forgive an offender regardless of that person’s remorse or efforts to gain our forgiveness.
  4. We think we must meet face to face or resume the relationship: forgiveness happens in your heart when you release another person from the expectation that they will never be able to make right the hurt they caused you and when you stop identifying that person by their offense.
  5. We’re afraid we won’t be able to forget the offense: To forgive and forget is something only God is capable of (Isaiah 43: 25). We have memories and perhaps for our protection, or tend to remember hurtful things. When the offense comes to mind, remind yourself. “I have released that person from his/her obligation towards me” and move on, mentally and emotionally.

The forgiving life is a channel through which people may be won for Christ. When you forgive others, you are showing the manifold greatness of God’s grace, mercies and generosity. Can you make that first move to forgive your offenders and release yourself? You won’t be letting the other person off the hook only but you will, instead be releasing yourself to live freely by freely forgiving.

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