Forgiving someone means accepting their apology, right? Well, yes. But there’s a second part to forgiveness that many of us leave out, especially us ladies. We tend to forgive but we also tend to make sure that the one we’ve forgiven doesn’t soon forget their wrong against us. We are quick to forgive because we don’t want to carry the guilt of withholding forgiveness from them. But we want to ensure that there is still a price to pay – that they have to earn that forgiveness in some way.
The problem with that way of thinking is that it doesn’t fit the definition of forgiveness, true forgiveness – the kind of forgiveness that Jesus died on the cross for. Forgiveness means to release a person from punishment, to exempt them from penalty. When you truly forgive someone then you do not expect anything in return. It’s over. It is finished.
You see, we are often too quick to forget what Jesus did for us on the cross. Oh, we remember the part about how He forgave our sins and so we in return are willing to forgive others. But we leave out the part of what He did before He died on that cross, the part where He paid the penalty for our sins. He received the brutal beating and punishment that our sin deserved. He never said “I’ll forgive you, but it’s gonna cost you”. Not only does He forgive us but He also paid the cost for us. (Isaiah 53:5)
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to forget the wrong that was done to you. But it does mean that you do not expect them to earn your forgiveness. If you forgive someone you forfeit your right to impose a penalty on them. When you forgive them you relinquish the need to make them pay for what they did to you by withholding affection or constantly reminding them of just how bad they hurt you. Many times as women when we forgive someone we falsely believe that we have the “right” to do what we want, spend what we want or act like we want without consequence because after all, we earned it because of what they did to us. In true forgiveness there is no penalty phase. There is no set time period that we get to treat the one who hurt us with an attitude of revenge while we practically dare them to react negatively because we’ve decided they deserve the harsh treatment as payment for their wrong.
What we all deserve is everything that Jesus endured on the cross on our behalf. But when we seek His forgiveness we receive it – no strings attached. We can’t earn it, we can’t buy it with flowers or gifts and there’s no certain time period that He gives us the cold shoulder until He decides we’ve finally earned full forgiveness. He forgives our sins the moment we repent. The moment we seek His forgiveness with an attitude of Godly sorrow, it’s done. There’s no penalty phase because the penalty was paid in full for our sins.
In response to the cross, the very least we can do is to fully forgive others who sincerely seek our forgiveness with Godly sorrow. We owe them forgiveness with no expectations of them earning that forgiveness. Those who ask for our forgiveness deserve the same forgiveness we receive from God when they do so not because they were caught doing wrong, but because they know they caused us to hurt and they never want to do it again. Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive? Is there anyone you need to completely forgive?