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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Faith and Forgiveness: Part V – Misconceptions

The decision to forgive
Many people are under the assumption that when they truly forgive another person they will no longer feel anger or pain at the thought of the offense or that they will never even have a thought of the offense again! Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our decision to forgive others is not a feeling though our feelings might be altered as a result of our decision. When we forgive another we make a conscious choice not to hold that person accountable for making restitution for our loss, in essence they don’t have to “pay” for their misdeed. Quite often it is essential for the offended party to discuss the offense in order to identify their own shortcomings and weaknesses and to come to grips with their grief. The emotions resulting from an offense are a consequence of the actions of the offended party and the offended not only have a need to resolve them, they have the responsibility to do so. This might take time and effort but can be facilitated by the cooperation of the offender. We should always take great care to avoid using the offense as a "club" in an argument. We should never “throw it up in someone’s face”, so to speak. If this occurs then we’ve actually failed to forgive that person.

Our feelings and the thoughts they provoke are not within our control but they are certainly our responsibility. We can however, and must, control what we choose to consider if we are to truly forgive. If we find it particularly difficult to resolve our feelings it usually indicates that we’re not focused on our own responsibility, but rather on the responsibilities of others.

Accept the cost
If you have violated the trust of another and they’ve decided to forgive you that doesn’t mean their trust in you should be automatically restored. The trust of another must be earned and although they’ve forgiven you it may be necessary that you earn back their trust. Many relationships are ended because of an unrealistic expectation that all prior trust should be restored with the decision to forgive. In some cases it may be perfectly fine to restore trust solely on the basis that “no one is perfect”, however many times the violation is an indication of a greater problem that must be resolved before trust can be fully restored.

While to forgive another is to set aside any compensatory requirement, if you truly seek forgiveness you should be willing to make restitution to the best of your ability. If you have decided to forgive then at the very least you must be willing to sacrifice your pride and your lust for vengeance. You may be required to make a material sacrifice as well in order to truly forgive another.

Failure is not an option
The believer who refuses to forgive others sets himself against God and will find no relief for his own misgivings. We cannot live in harmony with God or with others if we refuse to forgive. The consequence of refusing to forgive could be the ruin of a believer’s life and will have devastating consequences on him in judgment.

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30 Comments:

Blogger Seeker said...

Your final phrase is intriguing. Are you going to expand on that thought in Part VI? (smiling)

3/14/2006 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks for this post. It is really helpful.

God Bless

Matthew

3/14/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Karen are you referring to judgment? ;-)

Matthew I'm so thankful! May God bless you dear brother. ;-)

3/14/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty Cheng said...

What exactly do you mean by 'failure is not an option'....gee! I often fail though! Help!

3/14/2006 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kitty perhaps it's my understanding of what failure means but I believe we only fail when we quit. ;-)

In this case it would mean that if we quit forgiving the consequences will be devastating. Does that make more sense?

3/14/2006 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Kc, this is good stuff!

I'm glad you brought that part out about sometimes, even though you forgive, trust cannot be completely restored right away, because there is a deeper problem. So true!

3/14/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kc,
this is indeed helpful, what you said about still feeling bitter or angry when an offender comes to mind, doesn't mean you haven't really forgiven them? in my case, i can't go to this person. she is deceased. she has hurt a person who i love very much. i see the hurt in his life every day from her lack of love. it affects me. i get so angry when i see him hurt. how do i deal with this?
zina

3/14/2006 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

This is profound and insightful. The first paragraph brought to mind some things from the past.

I am learning that Jesus not only bore the pain of our own sins, but also the pain that the sins of others inflict upon us. When we hurt from a wrong which we have already forgiven, we can take it to Jesus and let Him rub some grace on it.

3/14/2006 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Seeker said...

That, too. (still smiling)

3/14/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Zina thanks for your willingness to discuss this openly. I know this is painful for you but your willingness to discuss it openly could edify others as well. I can only address this generally here but if this doesn't help and you would like to discuss it further you know I will be happy to talk with you. I pray this might help. ;-)

Our decision to forgive others is not based on the severity of the transgression but on the commandment of Jesus. The effort involved in resolving the feelings we're left with concerning the offense and its consequences can be enormous. Most of our feelings are based on our own perception, meaning they are the result of how we “see” things and often our “vision” is lacking. It is important we remember that God, through His foreknowledge and by His permissive will, has made provision for every offense no matter how great or how small and that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”. His will is accomplished in all but we cannot know the extent of His will in the lives of others nor how He intends to use these things in their life. Only He knows the “why” and the “how” and we have to resolve our pain and our sorrows in these things by trusting only in Him and His perfect will.

3/14/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Gordon I like that thought, "rubbing grace". Sounds like the perfect ointment. ;-)

Karen you've got me soooo curious! Spill the beans here sister! haha (or email me your thoughts hehe).

3/14/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Seeker said...

PR says no one can "make you" angry. One's anger is one's own response; an "allowing", if you will.
"S/He made me angry" cannot be our mindset.

3/14/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I agree with PR. I believe anger is our response to a failed expectation. I offered an article on that here.

3/14/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kristi thanks! I really hope and try to be a blessing to others and your feedback is so encouraging and such a great blessing to me. ;-)

3/14/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Pia said...

this is exactly what i was taught about forgiveness. i couldn't let go of the anger i had deep deep down and it took time before i was able to grasp this truth about forgiveness. and i'm glad i did. my comment on your previous post is related to this one.

3/14/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

"When we forgive another we make a conscious choice not to hold that person accountable for making restitution for our loss, in essence they don’t have to “pay” for their misdeed."

That is what I was trying to say when I was speaking about God not remembering our sins, I do believe (as do a lot of Hebraic scholars) that this 'remembering' or 'forgetting' done by God is not the same as ours. It is like when it says God 'repents' or has 'arms'.

I think that God 'not-remembering' our sins is God making a 'conscious choice' not to hold the person accountable.

Hey, at least give me some credit. I did just use 'choice' to describe the act. ;)

3/15/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Kc, don't think you can sneak around and not be noticed!

Of course, I'm referring to the changes you've made to your blog. Yes, they may be small, but I noticed, and I like them! =)

3/15/2006 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam I have to give you alot more than a little credit. It's a great blessing to be able to discuss the differences in our understanding in a loving way. Now on with the show! (grin)

I agree that what God does is different but only because it is perfect, not because it means He does it differently. If we say, "I forgot all about that" we are only capable of no longer considering it when it comes to mind. If God says, "I will remember their sins no more" it means it NEVER will come to mind. Now concerning repentance I am at odds with the whole world here. I don't combine the word to include what it is that is repented from or to but take the word alone ( see here. This has had great implication on my interpretation of certain passages but requires no harmonizing of the scriptures on my part and allows the same definition to apply throughout the NT. There are many words we use with implied combination that I don't think were intended and maybe we can discuss some in the Pub. ;-)

3/15/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kristi thanks. I will make you one of my featured bloggers in my upcoming Time Out post. ;-)

3/15/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger forgiven said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/15/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger forgiven said...

Thanks KC

Jesus tell us that unforgiveness
will hinder our prayer life.

So time if we have been wait on the Lord for something and nothing is going on ..I look at myself.. and I find sometimes its my heart thats not right.

way to go Kc

Brother Doug

3/15/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks brother Doug. It's so easy to look at others and overlook ourselves isn't it? ;-)

3/15/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hi kc,
According to your definition of forgiveness, I guess I have forgiven the man I told you about in the previous post. I just think the whole thing would be more complete if he would be sorry. I know that may sound like a simpleton thing to say, but it is the base of my thoughts on the matter. What I really pray for is that he would stop being such a curmudgeon and that his relationships with fellow Christians could be restored and everyone would be relieved as the burden of this scorn is lifted. (He puts scorn on people).
That is the feeling part, I think. Although it is hard to FEEL like I have forgiven, I do not demand payment for his wrong, only I hope for his turning away from it. Do you think it sounds like I forgive him? (It is very complicated business for me, this particular person)

3/15/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Rose thanks for being open about this specific problem. I really can’t judge but only offer some thoughts that might help in your considerations. To be honest it seems this situation is not an issue in forgiving but could possibly be one of two related issues.

From what I know of you I would not be inclined to consider you judgmental but for the benefit of anyone who might find him or her self in a similar dilemma I will say this. It is always best to first consider if we have overstepped our oversight concerning the things that others say and do. We must always take care not to judge a servant of the Lord.

The second issue is more what I am inclined to believe to be the case but again I cannot know. If you believe this man has hurt you or the body then you are obligated to confront him in meekness with the express intent of reconciliation. If he refuses to hear you or, in your opinion, the offensive behavior continues then the scripture says to take two or more witnesses and visit him again, still with the intent of reconciliation. If reconciliation cannot be achieved after this then the matter is to be brought before the full assembly and the assembly must make a determination. At this point it is incumbent on both of you to accept their judgment. If either of you would refuse the assembly would be within scriptural authority to refuse fellowship. I have never seen a situation reach that point and the only matters that I have ever seen brought before the assembly were done so out of turn and returned back to the presenter. I do know many who prefer the easy way out and overlook the offense, which in itself is a serious matter.

I would say one thing further though I might take some flack for it. Any matter involving a married person should always be discussed fully between the couple and they should be in agreement before taking any action. Being married we are instructed to submit to one another and as being one flesh whatever is undertaken by a spouse is reflected onto the other.

I don’t know if this is helpful in your situation but I will pray that God grant you wisdom, courage and understanding in resolving the matter.

3/15/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

KC,
I agree with you about the married couple part.

I haven't seen the person for about 11 years now. He will not go to church. He says the church is all full of apostates and there is no church good enough for him. You see, so the biblical plan for confrontation is a littlle difficult.

I never see him ... and I don't see those he talks to anymore ... so I don't have to hear about all the awful things he says and judgements he makes on me and others. (That is a sorry excuse for resolution)

He always thought he could read people's minds and motives.

I just wish it didn't have to be so. I pray that one day he can have a kinder, approachable, less hateful attitude ... because he is the man that led me to the Lord and it really hurts not to have any fellowship with him.

How's that for open?

3/15/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thank you again Rose. This makes it pretty clear and I know it's your heartache that's the issue. The anger you feel isn't toward him, it's toward the attitude he's taken that's resulted in this great loss. It's pure grief that you're suffering and the worst kind. This type of grief can only be resolved by faith because there is no way you can, or should accept the loss. The faith that will ease your suffering is in the sure knowledge that none of this has escaped His sight and no one wants him to repent more than the whole of heaven. You can't know the outcome of this situation but your steadfast trust in God's providence might surely be used to persuade him and your prayers never fall on deaf ears. May God Bless your heart sister and comfort you greatly. It may help to understand the stages of grief and you might be able to recognize them in yourself. It seems your are stuck in the anger phase and I know that's most painful. As I said before the acceptance phase is out of the question and it's there you'll have to resolve it to God. Here is a breif outline of the process of grief. I hope it might help.

3/15/2006 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Thanks kc. You are a good brother.

3/15/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I hope that helps Rose. You're a great sister. ;-)

3/15/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I'm having to go through and print this whole series so I can sit back, read it, study it, enjoy it.

Excellent work.

4/08/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Rev you're too kind and I think some of the stuff at your place is worthy of a much broader distribution. ;-)

4/08/2006 01:32:00 PM  

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