Monday, March 05, 2007

Forgiveness is not...

I'm still reading John Ortberg's book "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them." I'm in the third section called "The Secrets of Strong Relationship." The chapter I'm currently reading is about forgiveness.

Ortberg brings up some points about forgiveness that I've never really thought about before. First, he talks about what forgiveness is not:

  1. Forgiveness is not the same thing as excusing. If an action is excusable, then is actually doesn't require forgiveness, does it? If, for example, someone is speeding because he is trying to get to the hospital before his child is born, then his action is excusable, but he doesn't need forgiven. If you think about that, then we shouldn't be waiting around for someone's actions to be excused before we forgive him.
  2. Forgiveness is not forgetting. We talk about that one alot. Are we required to forget something that someone did to us when we forgive him? Ortberg's point is precisely that the two actions are not the same at all. He says, "Forgiveness is what's required precisely when we cannot forget."
  3. Forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciling. Reconciling requires action by both people. I can't reconcile with someone who does not which to reconcile with me. I can forgive him. Also, there are times when I would forgive someone, but not reconcile with him. Think of the abused wife, who finally is able to forgive her husband, but in no way should be reconciled with him.
So if forgiveness is not excusing someone, or forgetting the hurt or reconciling, then what is it? I like Ortberg's thought that forgiveness is what is required when excusing or tolerating or accepting are not big enough to handle the job. It's hard work. It isn't easy. It's difficult -- so difficult that there are times that it is only by the grace of God that we are able to do it.

Image: Trees and sun at the VA this morning.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim, I've read that that true forgiveness entails treating the offense as if it had never happened. So while forgiving is not forgetting, forgetting can sure be a part of forgiveness

4:39 AM  

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