By Pastor Vinnie Cappetta
"What Forgiveness Is and Is Not"
There are some misconceptions about forgiveness. Perhaps it would be helpful to define what forgiveness is not . . .
> When you forgive a person, this does not mean you are immediately healed.
> When you forgive a person, this does not mean you are going to be best friends with them.
> When we forgive a person, this does not mean we surrender the right to restitution or justice when appropriate.
> When we forgive a person, this does not mean that we trust them, yet.
> When we forgive a person, we are not avoiding pain; we are opening the door to healing.
SOURCE: Smedes, Lewis B. The Art of Forgiveness. (Random House, Inc. New York, 1996), pg. 177-178
Peter was willing to forgive his neighbor 7 times, but Jesus urged Peter to forgive 70x7 or 490 times. Forgiveness is supernatural. There is no way for you to forgive on your own. There is only one way to forgive others; you must do it as God has forgiven you. Listen to some quotes from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa where many black South Africans came face to face with white men who had committed great atrocities against them.
- “Forgiveness is to release, to let go, relinquish, get rid of sin—ours and those we’ve been victimized by.”
Are you ready to get rid of sin?
- “It is clear that forgiveness, reconciliation, are quite central to that process. And justice is an element of it as well. But forgiveness ultimately is to say you give people the chance to change. You open a door for someone to move from a dark past to a new and enlightened present and future.”
Are you giving people a chance to change?
- “When people forgive or say they are willing to forgive, it is at very great cost. We need to keep being reminded that it is a costly thing to forgive.”
Are you willing to make the costly sacrifice to forgive those who have wronged you?
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.