7 Things Forgiveness is NOT….

We get confused about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. Maybe we don’t really know sometimes.

Forgiveness is not an option for the believer. We are to forgive others as we have been forgiven. For most of us (all of us if we will admit it), that’s a whole lot of forgiveness. Understanding forgiveness doesn’t make it easier to forgive, but it does make it more meaningful…perhaps even tolerable…but I believe understanding the process could make us more likely to offer the forgiveness we are commanded to give.

With that in mind, in two posts, I want to share what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.

Here are 7 things forgiveness IS NOT:

Forgetting – When you forgive someone your memory isn’t suddenly wiped clean of the offense. I know God could do that, but it seems that would be the easy way. I suspect God wants forgiveness to be more intentional than that.

Regaining automatic trust – You don’t immediately trust the person who injured you when you forgive them. That wouldn’t even be logical. Trust is earned, and they must earn trust again.

Removal of consequences – Even though you forgive someone, they may still have consequences to face because of their actions.

Ignoring the offense – You don’t have to pretend nothing happened when you forgive. The reality is an offense was made. Acting like it never occurred only builds resentment and anger.

Instant emotional healing – Emotions heal with time. Some pain runs deep and takes longer to heal.

Restoring the same relationship – The relationship may be closer than before or not, but most likely it will never be the same.

A leverage of powerGranting forgiveness does not give a person power over the person being forgiven. That would violate the entire principle and purpose of forgiveness.

Here is the companion post….7 Things that Forgiveness Is… Just a note before you get there: This post may have seemed easy, even freeing, but the next one may be more difficult.

What would you add to my list of things forgiveness is NOT?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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28 thoughts on “7 Things Forgiveness is NOT….

  1. Hmmmm. When God forgave me, he removed the offense, utterly forgot the offense, and restored the relationship. If his standard is what we strive toward, I see some holes in this article. :-)

    • Kevin, only God can do that and sometimes by His spirit He allows this. Many times He allows our emotions to heal with time. Consider if someone murdered a family meneber.  If you can automatically forgive instantly, forget the offense and restore the relationship, you're stronger than I am. Emotions almost always take time to heal. 

  2. Forgiveness also is not a way to violate justice: you should forgive the thief that stole your wallet .. etc but justice should take place also!

  3. Pastor : Can i get your permission to translate this post in spanish and post it in my website ? I wil do the referal as guest post. also, the one about what forgiveness is…


    W. Mora

  4. It's true! Many times, forgiving takes time to heal the wounds and all may not happen overnight. Forgving initiates many processes in you . Forgiving releases grace in our life. I think that the simple act of forgiving is enough from our end. God will do the rest to bring reconciliation and peace.

    Jesus himself teaches us that we should pray " Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" and he continues saying " if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:12-14).

  5. Thanks Ron, I read what forgiveness is first, than what it isn't. I believe what it isn't helped me the most. Understanding renewed trust, forgetting offense and instant healing is not part of forgiveness helps me. I like post fromLurinda, reconciliation is not part of forgiveness. I can forgive without it.

  6. So true so true so true…

    I've written a lot about the misconceptions of forgiveness. I love how you've presented them here. Looking forward to the campanion post.

  7. I love this post. I agree with your list (although I only count 6 not 7 – did I miss something?).

    For years I beat myself up because I thought I was in unforgiveness. Then a friend shared that forgiveness is not reconciliation. I had forgiven, but they refused to change and I had to establish proper boundaries. "Boundaries" as you mentioned, really helped me in life.

  8. It’s not about them….at all! The forgiveness we give is for our own benefit; sounds selfish, but it is to allow God His place to work. He can’t work in our hearts if we are holding anything like that in it, the very place that we harbor these ill feelings is the place God needs to work but can’t until we let it go! We’re not giving them freedom, we’re giving US freedom!
    Twitter: bryankr

  9. Great list! Not sure there is anything to add. The two that really stand out to me are #1 & #3. Those are such common misconceptions about forgiveness.

    Thanks for the reminders Ron!

  10. Thanks for posting this very timely (for me) piece. I am asking the trust question which you addressed in #3. I would love to be steered toward some more in – depth resources on the principle of the relationship between forgiveness and trust. I think I can forgive but I am convinced the relationship is toxic. Know any good books or messages on that?