But perhaps some of What troubles us about forgiveness is that we don’t understand what it is.
By Dennis Rainey
If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14I am often reminded of what C. S. Lewis said: “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” How true. It’s not until forgiveness becomes personal and costly that it takes on its actual size and weight.
But perhaps some of what troubles us about forgiveness is that we don’t understand what it is … and what it isn’t. Forgiveness doesn’t mean:
- Excusing what someone did to you
- Forgetting what happened
- Denying, or stuffing, your feelings
- Reconciling instantly every time
It does mean:
- Embracing the offender—Christ modeled forgiveness at its best when He forgave and welcomed back those who hurt Him the most.
- Being proactive—When Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), He was forgiving people before they even asked for it.
- Surrendering the right to get even—The essence of forgiveness, especially in marriage, is letting go of our rights to punish and see justice done. Forgiveness is evident when one spouse ceases to demand restitution for hurt feelings and wounded pride.
The other night when Barbara and I were praying together, I turned to Barbara and said, “Sweetheart, before we pray, there’s something I need to ask forgiveness for.” Then after some dialogue, the words “I forgive you” were spoken by Barbara. That’s when you know your marriage is what it was meant to be—a relationship in which forgiveness can flow at the slightest offense. Forgiveness is one of the most important qualities you must practice if your marriage is to become great.
Talk about the definition of forgiveness … surrendering the right to get even. Is there anything you need to ask forgiveness for?
Pray that God will show you both how to be aggressive in pursuing forgiveness and appropriately quick in granting forgiveness.
Excerpted from Moments with You by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. © 2008 by Dennis Rainey. Used with permission. All rights reserved.