The Mythology of Forgiveness

The Mythology of Forgiveness

Posted: 02 Jan 2009 01:00 AM CST

By Jon Walker

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25 (NIV)

Jesus doesn’t categorize sins by which ones to forgive instantly and which ones we can hold over the offender’s head until we decide it’s time to forgive.

We live in mythology when we think forgiveness is based on our feelings, or on our authority. Some of the myths we live by are explained by Rick Warren in his book The Purpose Driven Life:

  • “I’ll forgive when he proves he should be forgiven.” Biblical forgiveness doesn’t carry any conditions. It can’t be earned; it isn’t deserved; it can’t be part of a bargain as in, “Do this and I’ll forgive you.” God gives you forgiveness freely because Jesus paid the bloody price of your sin debt on the cross.
  • “If I forgive, she’ll get away with what she did.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone or agree with what has happened. When you forgive, you’re not letting her get away with what she did; she’ll still face the consequences of her behavior. You may choose to remove some, or all, of the consequences, but that is a choice independent of forgiveness.
  • “If I forgive him, he’ll keep hurting me.” Forgiveness doesn’t mean your relationship remains the same. You may need time to trust again, to see if his repentance is genuine, and if he’s faithful toward rebuilding your trust in him. And if his offense is abusive or places you in danger, you can forgive him, but maintain your distance.
  • “If I forgive her, she’ll be free to do it again.” Frankly, she’s free to do it again anyway, whether or not you forgive her. On the other hand, you’re free to forgive her, even if she doesn’t seek forgiveness or show any sign of remorse.

If you’d like to receive these devotionals regularly, you can sign-up at Jon Walker writes from He is a Zondervan author, and the former writer/editor of the Purpose Driven Life On-Line Devotionals. This devotional is copyrighted 2008 by Jon Walker. Used by permission.

Thank you. Be blessed!

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