What Is Real Forgiveness

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The other night, I went to a women's Bible study at my hubby's seminary. The speaker for the evening told us to think about our house. She said to pick the room we liked least in the house. I picked the kitchen. She said that the first time she did this exercise, she picked the kitchen too.

By why did she pick the kitchen? Why did I pick the kitchen.? She picked the kitchen, she explained, because that's where she cooks (which she enjoys doing) only to have at least one of her children complain that they don't want it, or don't like it. I picked the kitchen, because there are always dishes piled-high, and I get angry because I don't have any help with them.

The fact of the matter is, my complaint isn't even valid. Sure, I wish Taylor didn't leave dishes in the sink, but it's not like Taylor never helps around the house. He does help, even though he is actually WAY more busy than I am.

But the point of the exercise, was to show that we always pick the room that brings out our wounds caused by people. It really has nothing to do with the room itself. When I think about how I don't like the kitchen, it's largely because it makes me think of times I was angry because Taylor left me with dishes to do. I don't like the kitchen, because I haven't let go of those frustrations.

How Does Jesus Forgive?

When we talk about forgiveness, we have to understand what forgiveness is meant to be, because we often get it wrong. Perfect forgiveness is found only in Jesus, so we must look to Him to learn how it should be done.

Jesus doesn't forgive like I forgive. Jesus' forgiveness is full. He not only says "I forgive you, Kristin", but he also chooses not to dwell on that sin any longer when I repent. He doesn't stuff it in the back of His mind, only to dredge it up again later. He doesn't suddenly explode because of lingering anger over my past wrongs. No. Jesus tosses sins as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).

Jesus forgives without holding back.

Jesus forgives with His whole being.

Jesus forgives entirely.

A Faulty Forgiver

When I compare the way I forgive to the way Jesus forgives, I realize that I don't live by real forgiveness. I say "I forgive you", and I drop it for a while, but as soon as someone wrongs me (even when it is as simple as not doing the dishes), I think back to any other time they've wronged me, and I hang on to an attitude of entitlement and self-centeredness.

"How dare they treat ME like that!"

"Who do they think they are?"

"I'd never treat them like they treat ME!"

As much as I may feel I deserve super-awesome treatment, truth is, I've treated my loved ones wrongly just as much as they've treated me wrongly. I leave Taylor with extra chores to do, even when I have time to do it myself. I've forgotten to call or text my friends back, but I get so mad and hurt when they do the same to me.

Becoming a Real Forgiver

We have to start remembering our own sinfulness, in order to forgive correctly.
We are constantly making mistakes- some big, some small. We have to remember our own faultiness, so that we are more willing to give grace to others.

We have to start giving people the benefit of the doubt. They probably don't even know they hurt us. And if they do, they probably didn't mean to.

And if they did mean to, that shouldn't stop us from forgiving. Jesus didn't wait for people to be sorry to die on the cross. He died for them (for us), long before we felt any remorse for our sins. If Jesus did that, then why do we think it's ok to wait until someone is sorry to grant them forgiveness?

Jesus was perfect. He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21). He had every right to feel entitled, to hold back from us. But He didn't. He gave His entire life for us, for real forgiveness, even when we weren't sorry.

Let us strive daily to give the sort of forgiveness that Jesus gave. Let us live out real forgiveness!

Do you struggle with forgiveness? Why do you think that is? Comment below.


  1. Love this. This line so resonated with me - " Jesus didn't wait for people to be sorry to die on the cross." - I think at time, I wait for people to say sorry before I think of letting it go when I should be daily letting it go whether there is an apology or not. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Simi! I do that too! That's one of the reasons I felt this would resonate with people, because I knew I wasn't the only one who had that issue.

  2. I'm definitely struggling with forgiveness right now! I've said a lame apology but I'm having trouble forgiving someone! Thanks for the reminder that Jesus died for us BEFORE ever receiving an apology (and sometimes never does). Thank you!

    1. I'm sorry you are struggling with that right now. It can be so tough. I hope this has encouraged you to forgive :)

  3. As a coach I do a lot of forgiveness work with my clients. One way to look at situations like this (pile of pots in the kitchen) is to ask what does this mean? A pile of pots means that you have people to share meals with. This kind of reframing relly works well with forgiveness.

  4. Very well said, I have the hardest time forgiving people at times. I think it totally depends on how hurt I am by something they did and how much (and if) it is still impacting me. It is the hardest to forget and move on though.
    xx, Kusum | www.sveeteskapes.com

    1. I am the same way, Kusum! I tend to help grudges a lot and I want that to change!