Seven Propositions That Explain Why I am So Bad At Forgiving Others
Dr. Bill Senyard
Gospel App Ministries
We have a problem. Forgiving others is very hard, and we are just not good at it. We have tried a number of times and just crashed and burned. So, here are seven propositions, Biblical truths related to forgiving others. Hopefully, they may begin to explain why you have struggled so much to forgive others. Ready?
Proposition 1 – All violations cause debts.
Your heart has measured the event and its consequence and weighed a debt. The scales of your heart are now unbalanced. It is not only that someone did something to you; they also took something from you. Your brain will not ignore this. In fact, it can be quite OCD about this. Until that debt is resolved, you will feel shame that you didn’t stop it somehow.
Proposition 2 – There can be no complete forgiveness until the entire debt has been paid.
Your efforts to date have generally failed because you are fighting against your own brain which, at least to some degree, is rightly demanding full compensation for the crimes against you. It demands that the scales get balanced. It is part of the image of God that was created into us.
This seems a bit unlike Jesus, right? Aren’t we just supposed to be merciful, to absorb the loss?
But check it out. God never forgives anyone until there has been full justice paid. God never, ever surrenders the right to get even. He never just releases the person from the debt that is owed. Isn’t that great news? When Moses asked about God’s core character, “What is your name?” God answered him:
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished….” (Ex. 34:6-7)
Whoever God is, there is one thing for sure: He is both abounding in love and forgiveness, yet still perfectly requiring judgment. How do we reconcile the apparent conflict? What is this forgiveness that also requires justice? In our language, we pit the two against each other. Either we forgive or we pursue justice—one or the other.
But there is no conflict between the two in God’s character. Once all my crimes are fully paid for, only then does God forgive me.
The Bible teaches that we will all experience a final, huge trial where:
“God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:14)
Ironically, trying to forgive the debt without justice, without payment will only be a further offense to you. According to justice expert Cynthia Ozick, such a forgiveness actually “re-brutalizes” the victim. Does this ring true?
Proposition 3: you are a person of great worth.
I won’t go deeply into this. Simply put, your brain at one level registers the hurt as very large, because it sees you as a person of great worth. If you ripped up my amazing crayon drawing of the Mona Lisa, you would not go to jail. But if you went to the Louvre in France and even touch the Mona Lisa, you would be put in a very deep cell for a long time. The crime and the punishment are weighed against the value of the thing injured. God looks at what happened to you and sees a capital offense. Not easily just waved off.
Proposition 4 – There will be a perfect trial and objective verdict
for all crimes against you.
Somewhere, deep inside your inner being you struggle to process unresolved injustice. Your brain is wondering if that is it?
Victim, good news. There will come a time when all of the crimes against you—every single one—will be fully and perfectly dealt with by the Judge over all creation—to the satisfaction of all of the celestials—including, of course, you.
In The Forgiving Path (www.forgivingpath.com), we actually give participants the trial that they have longed for before God. It is very powerful. On average, in 2019, participants experienced an 80% increase in their experience of justice. Very noticeable.
Proposition 5 – There will be perfect punishment and repayment.
Sounds so un-Christ like to our modern ears. Can’t a good God just wave His hands and “choose to forgive?” Not our God. Remember, we have something inside Him and us that needs justice. If I am worthy, then justice must happen. If I have no value, there is just no point of a trial.
Jesus-Follower victim, per the Bible, God Himself promises that you will experience punishment for all of the violations against you and full restoration of the loss. You will experience shalom. Listen how Paul puts this “filling”
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being . . . so that . . . you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-21)
I am not sure exactly what being filled to the full with all of the fullness of God feels like, but its got to be good.
Proposition 6 – The beginning of consolation can begin to be accessed by faith
through the Holy Spirit now.
If it is reasonable that we can experience the penalty of our crimes paid by faith now, isn’t it equally reasonable that we can also by faith run to the Judge for a foretaste of being made whole, just a little bit now? Yep, of course.
Proposition 7 – Now, once consolation begins to happen,
Then is the right time to begin to seek His wisdom about what the next steps might be.
For Christians, now ask, and God will provide wisdom for the next steps. As you take these baby-steps, you will likely begin to feel a little more loved by God, more empathy for the person who hurt you and you will begin to feel a little bit of God’s forgiveness for the person who hurt you. When it happens, ask for wisdom regarding next possible next steps. Not all next steps are equal. Wisdom comes from the Judge as well.
Bottom line, forgiving requires ongoing miracles as we lean into the power of the Spirit.
Still need some help? That is why, seven years ago, we created the Forgiving Path. We wanted to give hurting Christians a path that checks all of the Biblical boxes related to forgiving others. It is 100% on-line, confidential, inexpensive and can be done on any computer or smart device.
On average in 2019, participants experienced the following changes:
Desire to avoid the person who hurt me? DOWN 27%
Desire for revenge? DOWN 53%
Sense of empathy and benevolence toward the person who hurt me? UP 149%
Experience of justice? UP 80%
Hundreds have been helped, not perfectly, that’s relegated to Heaven, but it should be noticeable. Check it out now (www.forgivingpath.com).
Take heart, child of God.