Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is Not Foregoing the Consequences

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

I once consulted with a church where a deacon was caught sexually molesting a little girl in the children’s department. He was the only adult (1st mistake) in a children’s Sunday School room with no windows (2nd mistake) and the church had never run any kind of background check on him (or any of their other volunteer workers…3rd mistake). The man fully confessed to the authorities and to the parents of the little girl, and then even more fully confessed to both a problem and a history in this area. He stood before his church and confessed as well. There was actually reconciliation between him and the injured family and there was spiritual restoration of this brother. It was a pretty extraordinary situation in that regard. All of this happened before the church ended up calling me for mediation.

Why then the need for mediation if there was reconciliation all the way around? It was because of what happened in his criminal prosecution and what happened in the church after his release from prison.

A dispute arose in the church about whether the injured family, who said they had fully forgiven him, should have nonetheless testified in the criminal prosecution. Another dispute arose after that, when the man asked to return to work in the children’s Sunday School department, but this time under strict supervision. There was a dispute about how to respond to this request. The argument in both instances centered around the meaning of forgiveness. “If we have forgiven him, shouldn’t we forego testifying at his trial and shouldn’t we trust him again with our children?” Eventually, the church concluded (rightly, I believe) that the correct answer to these …

Forgiveness is Not a Feeling

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Isn’t it funny that an entire Spiritual revolution (the one called Christianity) can be founded upon the concept of forgiveness but the concept itself can be one of the most misunderstood concepts for those of us who are a part of the revolution? For so many in the Western church today, it may as well be written in Chinese (for those of you who actually read Chinese, my apologies, the illustration loses some punch with you).

Sometimes when I am counseling with someone about forgiveness, especially when it is someone who has been hurt deeply by another person, he/she will say something like this to me: “I know I need to forgive them, but I’m just not ready to forgive yet.” Most likely, what this hurting person is conveying with that comment is that he/she is not yet ready to start trusting that person again, because trust is a process and it takes time both to earn it and to give it. But I don’t think of forgiveness in that same way. As Christians, I think it is better for us to think of forgiveness as a promise. It is not something we wait to do, it is a commitment we make right up front, just as soon as the pain has occurred. That’s how God forgives us, and we are instructed to forgive others in the same way God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).

I think too often we wait to forgive. We wait until it feels right to do so. But forgiveness (in the way the Bible describes it) is not a feeling at all. If we wait until we feel like forgiving, it will never happen.

Forgiveness is …

No Keeping Score with Forgiveness

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

As of the original writing of this post, if Michael Phelps were a nation unto himself, he would have ranked third in the number of gold medals won at that point in the Beijing Olympics. That’s impressive. Watching him and his 4 x 200 relay team members shatter a world record by almost 5 full seconds was impressive. Watching the Chinese gymnastics teams (both men and women) was also impressive. I do love the Olympic games.

One of the things I noticed about myself as I watched is how many new numbers I learned. Before last Summer’s Olympics in Beijing, I never knew what a world class split time was for 100 meters freestyle. Before then, I never knew how to calculate team averages in gymnastic rotations in the team competition. But I found my brain awash in these calculations night after night as I watched with anticipation. For a guy who went to law school so I wouldn’t have to learn any more math, I got wrapped up in the math of competition quickly…because the numbers are important in Olympic competition. It is how we remember athletes’ performances. It is how we keep score. And let’s be honest here, keeping score is important to us.

But in matters of grace and forgiveness, numbers are apparently not important to God. So I believe Peter was a bit befuddled by Jesus’ response to his question about forgiveness in Matthew 18. And I believe we are right there with Peter. Our chests swell with pride over how forgiving we have just been with a brother…for the [fill in the blank with your favorite number]-th time. We are proud because we are …