What Does It Mean to Forgive?

"Roses In The Ocean" by EA.jpg

I started writing yesterday about how my prayer to God for help turned into a series of days of self-examination.   I think it ties back to my fervent prayer for my identity in Christ.  It is hard to view myself the way Scripture says.  And one of the things that holds me back is that I know the things about myself that I hide from others.

Bitterness, resentment, and envy are always nipping at my heels.  And I'm now realizing they do because I have such a low estimation of my worth.  And those around me become threats to my identity. Ouch.

Not the identity I have in Christ, but the one I have put on and worn for oh-so-many years now.

The one I willingly accepted because of what other people  did, said, or did not do or did not say.  

When I began this little trip, I soon realized I needed to forgive all those people who I allowed to wrongly define me. After all these years, I still carry those hurts right along with me.

And, I need to forgive them.

I know forgiveness is a hard topic.  And, I also know that God is clarifying what forgiveness is.  I think, somehow, I assimilated the idea that forgiveness is somehow saying that the misdeeds of others are ok.  Like, "Oh, it's ok you did that to me ... I forgive you for ....(fill in the blank)."  Cuz some of those things we need to forgive other for?  Some of those things are atrocious.  We have been abused by others, used by others, and hurt by others.  So, to forgive???  To condone?  Many find the idea repellent.  I know I did.

But, in my readings, I've come across a different way to view forgiveness.

And it's based on Matthew 6:14-15.  (Matthew 6 is the newest chapter of Scripture I am trying to memorize.  It has SO much in it!)

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

That is one hard concept.

Then, I did something I read about.

I did a word study on forgive.

I got out my trusty Strong's concordance (an easy thing to do now as it was a free app for my iPad!) and put in Matthew 6.  The words you want to know the meaning of are underlined.  A simple click and the original word comes up with its meaning(s) in our language.

I will quote from there.

Forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.

How different from what I believed it to be.

The way I now see forgiveness makes sense.  It is NOT saying that what the other person did was ok.  Not by far.  It's letting go of the offense, sending it away, forsaking it.

Be merciful, pardon, purge away, put off.

It's not dwelling on it anymore.  It’s not letting bitterness and resentments take root in your life.


It's saying, "I'm not going to let what you did to me continue to devastate me and continue to rip me apart.  I'm letting go of it so God can do His work in me."

Unforgiveness just takes up too darn much energy!  And the energy I do have is far too precious to waste it on something that only wants to destroy me.  (This is, I believe, another tactic of Satan.  How can we further God’s kingdom, when we are busy destroying ourselves with bitterness and envy and resentments and unforgiveness.)

God knows that.

Which is why we need to let it go.

Let it go so we can be free for the freedom given to us in Christ.

So, as I lie here in bed this morning, the sun shining through my patio window (my hospital bed is in our living room with an amazing view of our small lake), I can feel some of the tension begin to go.

I don't have to hold on to all these chains.  I can choose to let go.

I'm not saying it's an easy choice ... But, it is one that I must make because I am tired of the baggage.

So, I reach for my pen and paper, and my list of names of people who still hold on to me through my own unwillingness to forgive them, and begin to write.  

I begin to understand Christ's words from the cross.

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

If Christ could ask the father to forgive those who tortured and killed him, how can we as His followers, do any less?

Tomorrow:  Using A.A.'s fourth step and the hardest part for me - forgiving ourselves.

 © deni weber 2010-2015