It’s so misunderstood, forgiveness. Forgiveness in the Bible is very different then how we see it;. We tend to look at forgiveness in terms of our own values, as if forgiveness is something that must be earned and not given without some kind of compensation. But to assess some kind of price for forgiveness, putting the onus on the other person, is to miss the point entirely.
Jesus shows us how to forgive
When Jesus was dying on the cross, he cried out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He was praying for those who had turned on Him. He was asking His father to forgive those who whipped Him and forced Him to carry the cross through the streets of Jerusalem.
Jesus asked for forgiveness for the soldiers who nailed His hands and feet to the cross. Then, He wanted forgiveness for the crowds who shouted “crucify him” during His trial before Pontius Pilate. Jesus asked for His Father’s mercy for the religious elite, who refused to accept God’s gift of eternal life through His son.
He saved the thief on the other cross who asked to be remembered when Jesus entered into His kingdom.
For the entire world, it was forgiveness for the unforgivable.
So difficult to forgive after trauma
People who have been on the receiving end of brutal behavior, who have been physically and emotionally traumatized, are so often haunted by the events of their life, held captive by the person who brought on the damage. Because of what they have experienced, they suffer through the pain and torment over and over again in a never-ending cycle of misery.
They are robbed of even the smallest measure of comfort and human dignity. Their feet are stuck in knee-deep mud and they can’t move forward. To forgive the person who did this is inconceivable.
Why forgive them for doing this when they don’t care about the pain they have inflicted? Just thinking about it brings up terrible memories and the anger wells up inside. But what if forgiveness for those who have harmed you is more about bringing peace to your soul.
Forgiveness in the Bible
According to Psychology Today, “Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. One doesn’t have to return to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from an offender.
Forgiveness is vitally important for the mental health of those who have been victimized. It propels people forward rather than keeping them emotionally engaged in an injustice or trauma.
If we can forgive it has been shown to elevate mood, enhance optimism, and guard against anger, stress, anxiety and depression.”
Forgiveness is easier said then done
Forgiving is easier said than done however. But you ask, “Why don’t you just forgive them?” They reply, “Because I can’t.” Or they may say, “I don’t know how.”
But forgiving isn’t about letting the other person off the hook. When we sin against God, or against each other, there are consequences to our actions. God is, after all, paying attention and knows what is happening in His presence.
Not knowing how to forgive is just a part of human nature. We have our own sense of right and wrong, and our own sense of justice, but that doesn’t necessarily line up with God’s view of any given situation.
Don’t believe other person DESERVES to be forgiven
Sometimes we just don’t forgive because we believe the other person or persons don’t “deserve” to be forgiven. They have done nothing to EARN forgiveness.
When people are released from prison, it because they have “paid their debt to society.” However, they still aren’t forgiven and all too often getting out of jail is worse than being in jail because there’s that criminal record, which is never expunged, regardless of the efforts one might take to repay his/her debts. They come out owing lawyer fees, court costs and reparations. They did the time, but they aren’t forgiven.
God tells us that He will not remember our sins against us. Total forgiveness is foreign to the human mind. Because we can never pay the sin debt, because we cannot earn God’s forgiveness, and because we do not deserve His forgiveness, we are left completely powerless to change the circumstances, defenseless against any charge of sin, and helpless to effect any solution.
By own own doing, it is a bottomless pit that we fall into. God’s grace put’s a safety net into the bottomless pit and those who accept His offer of eternal life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, are not only forgiven, but washed clean. When God views His children, He sees the righteousness of His own Son.
Don’t see it the way God does
Still forgiveness is difficult because we can’t see it God’s way. We want to pay own own way. Even if we can forgive others, we often cannot forgive ourselves for the mistakes, the sinful actions and the bad decisions.
But God does forgive those who need forgiveness. He wants to forgive, and so, despite our own roadblocks, He freely gives that which we cannot fully comprehend. In spite of ourselves, we are forgiven. Therefore, to not forgive ourselves is to tell God that His forgiveness has no bearing. That is illogical.
If forgiveness brings relief and freedom, the promise of renewal and hope, then to turn it down is extremely short-sighted. Forgiveness in the Bible is a gift that each of us should accept.
Jesus went to the cross to pay the sin debt in full. Because of that, God put all of the blame on His own Son, allowing us to go free, with one, small caveat. All God requires of us is to accept His gift… His son.
We are free to reject it, and so, any separation from God that is the consequence of that action is entirely our own doing.
In short, forgiveness in the Bible, i. e. the forgiveness of God is powerful beyond our comprehension in its complete and eternal transformation of the human soul.