Forgiveness is tough. In a sermon, giving forgiveness sounds so easy and clean. Yet in real life it is difficult and messy. The reality, though, is that we forgive as much as we believe we are forgiven. Whenever we withhold forgiveness we deny the power of the cross. Whenever we say, “I can’t forgive that person”, or, “I can’t let go of that situation”, we deny the power of the cross. We deny the power of what God redeemed us to do.
Before walking through giving forgiveness, let’s look at what forgiveness is not.
In his book Rumors of God, Jon Tyson said there are six myths about forgiveness:
- Forgiving is the same as forgetting.
- Forgiving is the same as reconciling.
- Forgiving is the same as excusing.
- Forgiving will make you weak.
- Forgiving is a simple act or decision.
- Forgiving depends on the perpetrator admitting wrong.
Forgiveness is letting go, canceling what is owed to you, letting go of the control the offender has over you. It is giving up revenge, and as we see in Romans 12:19, it is leaving it in God’s hands.
As you walk through this door and grant forgiveness, here are a few of things to keep in mind:
1. Forgiving someone does not mean pretending it didn’t happen. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, as the old saying goes. Those scars still exist. They are still there. Forgiving means acknowledging it happened and the pain associated with it. It is facing the hurt.
2. Giving forgiveness means bearing the other person’s sin. There is a cost to forgiveness. You must bear their sin. The cost of forgiveness is always on the person granting forgiveness. This is why forgiveness is so hard. C.S. Lewis said, “Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive.”
3. Forgiveness is possible because Jesus bore your sin and the cost of your forgiveness. When we look at the cross, we see how Jesus bore our sin, knowing we would fail again and again. Yet, he forgave us. The power of this moment is what enables us to forgive the way Jesus did.