I consider myself an expert on forgiveness. Seriously, anyone over the age of 20 who isn’t festering in bitterness is probably an expert on forgiveness. But forgiveness is still hard. Especially when we’re confronted with issues such as domestic violence, adultery, lies, betrayal, or theft. It’s hard to forgive people, especially friends and family, for taking advantage of our trust in them.
Over the next week or so, I’ll be publishing a series of blogs covering forgiveness. Before we embark, I want to catalog the Top 10 Most Prevalent Lies About Forgiveness, along with some very, very brief response to each.
- God Forgives Everybody
Despite the popularity of this myth, God only forgives people who repent. Forgiveness, in the Bible, is always in response to a genuine apology or request for mercy.
- You Should Forgive Everybody Too
See above. While it’s spiritually healthy to let go of your anger and forgive even the worst atrocities, you shouldn’t hold yourself without exception to a standard that God doesn’t even hold himself to.
- Forgiveness = Forgetting
While God does call us to forgive, he does not require us to be fools. For example, if someone has lied to you over and over again, you can forgive them, and still not trust every word they say.
- Forgiveness Means Giving Evil a Free Pass
You can forgive a person and still refuse to tolerate or live with a lifestyle of recurring and unrepentant sin. You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – be friends with criminals or perverts.
- Being Angry is Sinful
This depends on the brand of anger and how it is expressed. Throwing a tantrum and breaking something because you didn’t get your way is selfish, juvenile, and wrong. Being justifiably angry and behaving like a mature, rational adult is OK. Even God gets mad. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11
- Everyone Deserves Forgiveness
Forgiveness isn’t about giving people what they deserve. In fact, no one deserves to be forgiven at all. Forgiveness is a blessing, not a right. However, it’s healthy to forgive even our worst enemies, because forgiveness frees us from the shackles of anger and pain they put on our hearts.
- Forgiving People Shows Weakness
While I’ve never heard anyone actually come out and say this, a lot of people practice it in their daily lives. Their anger makes them feel strong and in control, and letting go of that anger makes them feel weak and out of control. But as Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
- I Forgive You, But I’ll Remind You Of This Blooper Every Chance I Get For The Next 10 Years
By definition, forgiveness is the act of letting go of all anger and entitlement. If you tell someone that you forgive them, but keep reminding them of their sin every time you get in a fight, your forgiveness was not from the heart.
- Wives, in Particular, Should Always Forgive Husbands
There is a lot of pressure in many Christian churches on wives to forgive their abusive, cheating husbands. However, neither Biblical forgiveness nor Biblical submission call upon women to roll over and mutely accept it as God’s will when they’re abused or abandoned by their spouse.
- If You Don’t Forgive Others, God Won’t Forgive You
On the surface this may seem like a true and Biblical statement. Nevertheless, it’s one of the biggest, baddest, and most pernicious lies of them all. This one, however, I’m not going to refute just yet. I need to save something for later to create suspense!
Sound interesting? I’ll be expounding upon these Top 10 Most Prevalent Lies About Forgiveness and backing up my positions in the upcoming blog series, Killing The Lie: “If You Don’t Forgive Others, God Won’t Forgive You”
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