Where Forgiveness Must Begin

Truth in F Button

If we use Christ as our ultimate example of forgiveness, then we know that not only was He profoundly merciful and forgiving, but He’s also completely truthful in that forgiveness. In fact, our faith in Him is ignited by Christ’s truth,

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jn. 8:32 (NIV)

In a similar way, we can claim Christ’s freedom when we pursue the truth as we forgive and seek forgiveness. Today I will focus specifically on forgiving others.

Let’s consider the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to Jesus by the teachers of the Law. Jesus didn’t dismiss, minimize or sugar-coat her sin. He didn’t say, “Oh, dear woman, I know you didn’t mean to have a multitude of illicit affairs with a variety of men. You poor thing, you’re really the victim here!”

No, He was very clear about the sin. More importantly, He knew her sin was truly against Him—not just against the people who were affected by her sin. Still He extended mercy to her. And finally, He urged her to “go now and leave your life of sin.” Jn. 8:11b (NIV)

Christ wasn’t so merciful to the self-righteous men who had brought the adulterous woman to Him. We don’t know what He was doing exactly as He wrote on the ground, but we get the idea that Christ brought their “lies” into the light of day. So the reason they didn’t receive Christ’s mercy like the woman had, was because they weren’t truthful about their sin—confessing and repenting of it.

So the first step in our journey to forgive another is to acknowledge the truth—the reality of the sin that was committed against us, including what we suffered and lost because of it.

God wants us to recognize that truth. If we don’t, we’re living in denial—lying to ourselves and others. When we live in denial we bury emotions that refuse to be ignored.

That terminology reminds me of a “modern-day adulteress” in the movie, “Fatal Attraction.” With that in mind, consider this metaphor …

Hanging on to resentment and ignoring its destruction is like trying to ignore some psychotic, scorned and blood-thirsty lover who just won’t leave the matter alone. Bitterness will hunt you down and shred your life, harden your heart, infecting and systematically damaging every relationship in your life—including and especially your relationship with God!

We don’t have to let our bitterness infect and overpower us. God provides and uses truth to initiate healing of our wounds and removing of our chains!

 

Do you agree? Do you think that forgiveness must begin with seeing the truth of your offender’s actions against you? Or do you consider this blaming?

 

What has helped you to work through hurts and forgive a repeated offender?

 

This is #2 in Forgiveness Series. To access #1, click here.

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Linking up with – NOBH, Momma Notes, Marriage MondaysMaking Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Monday’s Musings, Playdates with God and Marriage Monday

  • Kim Adams Morgan

    This is a powerful message, Beth. We can’t change or be forgiven for what we don’t acknowledge. We can blindly keep on going about our business. I’ve been working on some of this myself lately. Very refreshing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your husband.

    • Exactly, Kim! And I hope to unpack this more in future posts. It’s a confusing issue for many when seeking to forgive others. Thanks so much for your sweet words here and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well! 🙂

  • Oh my goodness, Beth, I absolutely agree with this. It’s something new I’ve been learning, actually, that it’s okay to express “negative” feelings because God wants the truth to be out in the open, and the truth isn’t always pretty. The trick is discovering how to express truth in love, rather than in anger. That’s my next mountain to climb. I love your wisdom. You are so good for me!

    • Yes, but this isn’t just about expressing truth (in love) to others–although that’s an important part of resolving conflict and setting boundaries. That’s further down the line in the process. What I’m writing about today is “acknowledgement” of truth to yourself and to God about others. I’ll reveal more about this confusing subject in future posts, so I hope you stay tuned! Thanks for coming by, Becky! Hugs to you!

  • Mia

    Dear Beth
    I have found that I cannot possibly forgive from the heart on my own. But I admitted that to Jesus and asked Him to enable me. He truly did, but even better, He enabled me also to see others through His eyes. That makes a complete difference. The greatest freedom was when He enabled me to forgive myself. Just like anything else, dear friend, but for the grace of God, there I go.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    • You are so right, Mia! I wholeheartedly agree that forgiveness is a work of God in us and not something we can accomplish on our own. But I think you’re speaking about something slightly different or further along in the forgiveness process and forgiveness journey here, than what I’m talking about. I’ll try to unpack what I mean by that more in future posts. I know, it’s a confusing and often misunderstood part of forgiveness. Hugs to you, my friend!

  • Mary

    I do agree that we must see the truth of our actions in any situation. We need to be real and accountable for the reason that forgiveness is needed. I also believe that the reason forgiveness is so difficult is due to not being able to admit to the truth of our own sins.

    Forgiveness is necessary in our world but it is an area that takes us out of our comfort zone. I know there is an element of grace that must accompany forgiveness in order for the healing to begin. There is one particular situation in my life that needs forgiveness extended and accepted in order for me to move forward. There is a deep hurt that still lingers in my soul that God is working hard for me to understand so I can heal completely. I’m looking for some answers as to why the situation became so overwhelming and life changing.

    As i read your posts on forgiveness, I am learning and will apply admitting the truth of my sins as I pray. I know that with God’s grace I will see my way through this. I ask for prayer to open my heart to forgiveness and grace for the other person and for myself.

    • I agree that often the biggest problem is being able to admit the truth of our own sins, Mary. That’s a blog post I’ll be discussing later. But for now, I’m slowly unfolding the progression that I feel is necessary to fully process and grieve the losses that you and I experience at the hands of our offenders. I don’t in any way want to communicate that grace is not a part of this process. It is, but the cost of the sin or the debt that is due by our offender must be understood, acknowledged and absorbed before we move forward in the process. Perhaps allowing yourself to see the cost of your offender’s actions is a piece that needs to be revisited or “visited” for the very first time, Mary. My prayers are with you and I hope you come back as I unpack this confusing but very important process in the days and weeks ahead.

      • Mary

        Thank you for helping me to slow down and focus on one piece of this process. I am too quick to jump from point A to point B without trying to work through each part. I do myself a disservice by doing this. I will be coming back as you unfold forgiveness in the rest of this series. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

        • We are all too quick to jump from point A to B, Mary. Most of my clients want to go from point A to point “Z” in lightning speed! The only problem is that our minds and hearts can’t change that quickly. I think that’s why God wants us to “wait” on Him so much. It’s a skill that goes against our nature but that is so important to truly staying in step with Jesus. Thanks for your sweet words, my friend and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • Beth I agree with you, the journey to freedom begins when I acknowledge/confess how I feel. Anything else means I am not dealing with the root of things and it’s easy to stay in that pit of hurt, never truly moving forward on the inside.

    That said, I’ve learned not to stay in this phase for too long! It’s a first step and there’s more steps to walk through.

    Thanks for unpacking these truths about forgiveness.

    • Yes, this is the first of many steps toward freedom in forgiveness through Christ. I don’t know how unbelievers ever find peace in troubled relationships. Christ is so crucial to finding the empathy and grace necessary to ultimately lay the hurt at Jesus’ feet. Thanks so much for stopping by, Ngina! I always feel blessed by your comments and encouragement here. 🙂

  • Buried emotions refuse to lie quiet…and your metaphor on resentment are so powerful. YES, forgiveness like healing, and they are so inter-related, requires truth as a first step. Recognizing what has happened and honestly sharing your feelings and what it has done — in a respectful and loving not angry way — is a launching point to working through and moving on. Thanks for this insightful post, Beth. And wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving…

    • Yet, Sheila, I’m not even talking about the confrontation of sin in others. I think in using this example of Christ’s attitude toward the adulteress has made this more confusing than I thought it would. I’m simply talking about acknowledging that hurt and loss to ourselves and to Jesus. I will be dealing with what you’ve brought up at a later date , and I certainly agree that being able to communicate in love our feelings can often be the right course of action and what helps us to move forward. There’s just so much to the decision and process of forgiveness that I’m taking a snails pace, so that I don’t miss an important facet of the diamond of forgiveness, my friend. I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed!

  • I do, Beth. I think of it as a confession of sorts, I guess. This is where the healing starts. Powerful words, friend. I hope you are doing well. I’m keeping you in prayer.

    • Yes, Laura, it is something of a confession and that’s where we find our God in the healing process–at His feet asking for His power and healing to be applied our hearts and hurts. Thanks so much for your kind words and hope your Thanksgiving was special!

  • bluecottonmemory

    A long time ago, over 16 years ago, I learned forgiveness is a journey. All those emotions do have to come up, like with a festering wound, spill out in order for healing to begin – after the anger was allowed to empty out – then I could forgive. Sadly, that person didn’t really want my forgiveness, didn’t benefit from it. I couldn’t make that person take it – all I was called to do was give it. The hardest part, though, is when the hurt is continually inflicted, 7×7. I want to know how to not hurt.

    Thank you Beth for your heart here! Such an important message!

    • Yes, Maryleigh, you bring up some really important points about forgiveness and reconciliation. I’m going to be dealing with those in the days and weeks to come, but like I’ve told Sheila, I’m taking a snail’s pace at this thing called forgiveness. I don’t want to overlook a single important truth, especially since there is such confusion and misinformation about forgiveness. Thanks so much for stopping by and hope your Thanksgiving was full of family and fun!

  • A big Amen to this, Beth. I just had a chat this weekend with some family members about how “stuffing” and “denial” lead to all sorts of bondage and mental strongholds — even mental illness. I love that verse from John 8, and it is the theme verse for an online Bible study group I lead.

  • Marie Steinhardt

    I agree that forgiveness is a journey! Being honest and forthcoming in counseling and participation in support groups has helped me heal from emotional abuse and to forgive! God has restored me and I am so grateful for his healing power.