When someone greatly hurts you, it is hard not to be bitter. Bitterness will destroy our lives and take a hold of the way we think, act, feel, etc... To deal with bitterness, we have to forgive. The Bible calls us to put of bitterness, think differently about what we are bitter over, and put on kindness, compassion, and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:21-32). Often, we struggle with being bitter and not forgiving because we don't know what forgiveness is. In this post, we will look at what forgiveness is not. It might help us know how to properly forgive.
Some of the main thoughts in this article have been taken from a message delivered by Pastor David Whiting. The link to the full message can be found here: Bitterness
1. Forgiveness is not an endorsement of behavior
Just because we forgive someone, does not mean we agree with what they have done. If someone has cheated you, you can and should forgive them, but that doesn't mean that you are ok with their actions and that you would endorse those actions (John 8:11).
2. Forgiveness is not an exemption from consequences
We should forgive those what have hurt us deeply, but that doesn't mean that the consequences should always be removed. If someone murders a person you know, your forgiveness of them does not mean they shouldn't pay for their crimes. There are times to be gracious and not have the person pay for what they have done, but forgiving them does not mean they shouldn't face the consequences. It depends on the situation (Matt. 18:26,29, Leviticus 5:16).
3. Forgiveness is not a restoration of trust
The Bible only commands you to trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are not supposed to put our trust in people (Jeremiah 17:5-12). When it comes to trusting people with everyday tasks and how we relate with them, trust is earned and should not automatically be given. We should be wise about who we trust for advice and with tasks (Proverbs 28:26). If a person steals money from you, you should forgive them, but that doesn't mean you should make them in charge of your money right after you forgave them. It is ok to have the other person reasonably regain your trust before you would let them have access to your money again. We can take this to far by holding what they did wrong over their head and making the expectations for regaining our trust too high (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). When we do that, we probably aren't forgiving them the way we should. We also shouldn't live in suspicion of people. We should be wise with who we trust, but it is unkind and unloving to always assume the other person is untrustworthy (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Another struggle in forgiving others is not knowing that there are several types of forgiveness. Knowing which type to do when, can greatly help in your battle to defeat bitterness and forgive others. Check out the next article on confusion about forgiveness.