The teaching @CR this week is Lesson-16 on Forgiveness and in preparing for it, I was blessed to expand my understanding of what it means to receive God’s forgiveness, forgive others and to forgive myself. This is a critical piece of pursuing our healing, walking out of our valleys of struggles, to better, brighter, healthier places.
May the Lord Jesus keep you safe, grow you up, strengthen you in mind, body & soul, and help you struggle well this coming week. Enjoy the excerpt… Bro. Rob
Excerpt from Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend, pages 262-264
“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” And to not forgive is the most stupid thing we can do.
Forgiveness is very hard. It means letting go of something that someone “owes” you. Forgiveness is freedom from the past; it is freedom from the abusive person who hurt you.
The Bible compares forgiving people to releasing them from a legal debt. When a debt is incurred, when people trespass on your personal property, real “owing” occurs. You have on the “books” of your soul an accounting of who owes you what. Your mother controlled you and owes you to make it right. Your father dominated you and owes you to make it right. If you are “under the law,” you are motivated to collect these debts from them.
Attempts at collection may take many forms. You may try to please them to help them pay you back. You think that if you do a little something more, they will pay their bill and give you the love they owe. Or you may think that if you confront them enough, they will see their wrong and make it right. Or you may feel that if you convince enough people of how bad you’ve had it and how bad your parents were, that will somehow clear the account. Or you could “take it out” on someone else, repeating the sin they did to you on someone else— or on them— to even the score. Or you could continue to try and convince them of how bad they are. You think that if they just understood, they would make it better. They would pay what they owe.
Nothing is wrong with wanting things to be resolved. The problem is that things will get resolved in only one way: with grace & forgiveness. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth does not work. The wrong can never be undone. But it can be forgiven and thereby rendered powerless.
To forgive means to write it off. Let it go. Tear up the account. It is to render the account “canceled.” “Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the Cross” (Colossians 2:14).
To forgive means we will never get from that person what was owed us. And that is what we do not like, because that involves grieving for what will never be: The past will not be different.
For some, this means grieving the childhood that never was. For others it means other things, but to hang on to the demand is to stay in unforgiveness, and that is the most destructive thing we can do to ourselves.
Warning: Forgiveness and opening up to more abuse are not the same thing. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Reconciliation & boundaries have to do with the future. Limits guard my property until someone has repented and can be trusted to visit again. And if they sin, I will forgive again, seventy times seven. But I want to be around people who honestly fail me, not dishonestly deny that they have hurt me and have no intent to do better. That is destructive for me and for them. If people are owning their sin, they are learning through failure. We can ride that out. They want to be better, and forgiveness will help. But if someone is in denial, or only giving lip service to getting better, without trying to make changes, or seeking help, I need to keep my boundaries, even though I have forgiven them.
Forgiveness gives me boundaries because it unhooks me from the hurtful person, and then I can act responsibly, wisely. If I am not forgiving them, I am still in a destructive relationship with them.
Gain grace from God, and let others’ debts go. Do not keep seeking a bad account. Let it go, and go and get what you need from God and people who can give. That is a better life. Unforgiveness destroys boundaries. Forgiveness creates them, for it get bad debt off of your property.
Remember one last thing. Forgiveness is not denial. You must name the sin against you to forgive it. God did not deny what we did to Him. He worked through it. He named it. He expressed his feelings about it. He cried and was angry. And then He let it go. And He did this in the context of relationship. Within the Trinity, He was never alone. Go and do the same. And watch out for the resistance that will want you to stay in the past, trying to collect what will never be.