99% of People Fail at Forgiveness, Here’s Why
Most people have the following dialogue when they forgive someone. “I forgive them, I don’t hold anything against them, but I have to separate myself from that person.” Or they’ll say, “I forgive but I will never forget,” or “I forgive but I can’t deal with them anymore.”
Such words are echoed following disheartened break-ups, confrontational scuffles, and turbulent skirmishes within relationships. Following such conflict, one cannot simply say that they forgive someone and move about their business.
First, we have to remember that the word ‘Forgive’ is a verb, and verbs are action words. That is, it is necessary and required that the person who is forgiving must complete an action in order to do it. Makes sense so far right?
So, then, when one says that they forgive another, what action is being complete? What act is being performed when one forgives another? If one simply says that they forgive a person, it is assumed that they are giving up resentment they feel (caused by the other persons transgressions) by absolving them of wrongdoing. But if you distance yourself from the person, are you truly completing that action? In other words, if there is no resentment, then why are deciding to distance yourself from them?
I believe that the Bible is the best example on how true forgiveness is manifested. Colossians 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” So basically, the Bible calls for us to forgive one another in the same manner that God Himself has and would forgiven you. So, then, how has God forgiven us?
Isaiah 43:25 says “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Psalms 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalms 37:23-24 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”
So, by Biblical standards, if we sin against God, He will do two things: 1. He will elect to not remember the sin, and 2. He will treat us as if whatever we did never took place. We don’t fall in “rank” or standing with God through sin. He sees us as perfect and righteous despite the sin that is committed and treats us as if the sin did not take place.
Now, mankind is inherently incapable of forgetting. It is impossible for the human mind to select specific thoughts for permanent deletion. So we have to throw out the possibility of completing step 1 from above.
We can, however, complete is step 2. If it is our instruction to use God forgiveness as our model on how we should forgive, that means that when someone does us wrong (and that person is sincerely sorry for their wrongdoing and asks for our forgiveness), we need to forgive them and treat the person as if what they did never happened. That is to say, we CANNOT distance ourselves from their lives, cut them off, stop being their friend, and stop associating with them. THAT is the true indication that you have no resentment or antipathy towards that person.
To forgive, you MUST treat the person as if their transgression never happened. Doing so mimics what God does for us and affirms the principals by which we are instructed to pursue. This task is by no means easy. It takes great fortitude to maintain the same relationship and/or friendship with a person after they have wronged you in specific ways (especially if the crime is repeated over and over again). However this should consistently be our pursuit. And if you are not forgiving in this manner, it simply isn’t forgiveness at all.