“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
– Proverbs 28:13
Something I was taught by my good friend and mentor Bill Gaultiere is that we can learn a lot about concepts through the via negativa, or understanding what they are not. With that in mind, here are a few important things to remember about the nature of forgiveness — what it is and what it isn’t. First of all, forgiveness is not excusing or overlooking. In other words, it’s not making light of something that was indeed very hurtful or damaging, and it’s certainly not pretending that it didn’t happen. On the contrary, in order to forgive, we must be willing to feel the full extent of our wound so we can fully let it go. Second, forgiving is not forgetting. While God has the ability to see us through the lens of Jesus and to remember our sins no longer, that isn’t entirely the case for us as humans. Trying to forget means denying or shoving down our pain, neither of which is healthy. On the other hand, forgiveness means that we assume a posture of humility that is willing to let go, even though the wounding was real. Finally, forgiveness may not include reconciliation. While we must forgive in order to reconcile, reconciliation isn’t always possible, especially when the offender continues in their destructive ways. The Lord gives us wisdom, and He teaches us to guard our hearts, which may require that we create space between ourselves and those who consistently and unrepentantly cause damage to our physical, emotional or spiritual well-being.
My friend, you are always called to forgive, but you are not always called to restore unhealthy relationships. Like Jesus did, you are empowered to set boundaries with those who seek to manipulate you so you can maintain freedom and continue fruitfully in the Kingdom work He’s called you to. As His disciple, the posture of your heart should be ever-willing to let go of offense, but as one who is wise, you understand that doing so doesn’t happen instantly nor does it demand that you deny destructive behavior. You are shrewd as a serpent but gentle as a dove, so you can show compassion, kindness, and mercy to the least-deserving while diligently guarding your soul. Forgive lavishly but reconcile responsibly and the broken world will change as a result.
Jesus, thank you for enabling me to forgive while also setting healthy boundaries. Help me to live wisely.
How can you reconcile responsibly with those who harm you?
If you’re unable to attend your local church or need some additional weekly inspiration, be sure to tune into Hour of Power every Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. PT on TBN or watch online at hourofpower.org/episode.
Thankyou Bobby all the way from Sydney, Australia.
The act of forgiveness for me is proving very difficult & this was just what I needed. I’ve been hurt and damaged beyond what I thought was possible, I don’t know why this lesson has come my way & im having trouble moving forward.
Thankyou so much for this wonderful teaching Pastor Bobby. I have had to learn this wisdom by experience not teaching, and the cost has been great. I pray that All Shepherds teach with this depth particularly about forgiveness as most don’t and feed milk not meat on this issue. God bless you for your diligence and depth.
Thank You for addressing this issue. My daughter and I have been dealing with a stepson/ brther who came back here last year after 6 years, and wreaked havoc in our peaceful existence. He’s in jail since November for a horrible accident he is responsible for and so lucky that he and three other people are alive! But refuses to accept responsibility for anything. Maybe he has amnesia, but I can’t respond to his letters because it’s so upsetting. So maybe I can send him this message and he’ll start to get it.
Thank You so much for your insights!
Much Love, Emily and Ellen
Thanks Pastor for your wisdom. I have a sister who has mental health issues and is very abusive. I have been told that in order to totally forgive I have to reconcile. I don’t want her in my life because of the way she treats me. I don’t trust her at all. She is very jealous of me and has tried to break up my marriage. She also abused my parents who she lived near and had a elderly abuse case being investigated in Florida but my parents died before they could complete it. She has caused so much trauma in my life and others.
You show the precious love of GOD AND THE boly sprit will guide you on what to say to them to be happy for them being blessed for that GOD will bless you with abundant blessings as well to bless others as well!