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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:29 pm 
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What are everyone's thoughts about forgiving your perpretrator even though he/she may never ask for forgiveness or admit his/her sin against you? We, as God's children, want to be Biblical, right? Is Christ's forgiveness for us really unconditional or is it better to say undeserving? They aren't the same. Don't we (the sinner) have a part in the restoration when it comes to God? It's also true that the one that hurt us may never repent so??? God certainly doesn't want us to be eaten up by bitterniess.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:33 pm 
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When I found out a man who not only was our colleague in NTM-Philippines, but also a man we considered to be our friend had molested both my daughters - ALL my daughters! - I went through indescribably deep agony of the soul that lasted for a very, very long time.

One of the things that helped me make it through that wilderness of grief was that I gave myself permission to re-define "forgiveness".

There are a couple of threads specifically about forgiveness that are under the Vianapolis heading on this Forum. You might want to read what has been posted there, if you haven't already.

I hope that will help. This is a tough subject to handle, especially in regard to the abuse of a child, and what forgiveness might look like in that context.

And the journey/process continues, from now to eternity, I think.

Peace,
Raz


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:48 pm 
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People often have the impression that the Bible requires forgiveness to be unconditional.1 But the Bible doesn't say that. It tells us that we should "Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13). While God's forgiveness is undeserved, it certainly isn't unconditional. The Lord's forgiveness is offered only to those who confess their sin and repent (2 Chronicles 7:14; Leviticus 26; Luke 13:3; 1 John 1:8-10).

On the surface, it might seem noble to forgive unconditionally. But unconditional forgiveness is usually motivated more by fear than by love. And because of this it's usually destructive. If a wife continues to forgive a habitually unfaithful and abusive husband unconditionally, her toleration of his behavior will probably result in even more abuse and disrespect. This kind of "unconditional" forgiveness expresses a determination to cling to the status quo. No matter how bad things are, this woman fears that things will probably get worse if she holds her husband accountable. Her passive acceptance of his behavior will probably encourage him to continue in his sin. Instead of her forgiveness being a helpful act of love, it is actually a violation of love that will hinder his growth toward Christlikeness.

Jesus' specific teaching about forgiveness in Luke 17:3-4 makes it clear that forgiveness should follow repentance:

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, "I repent," you shall forgive him.


I think the above quote from Vianopolis is what Raz is talking about. It seems to say that a person needs to repent before you are required to forgive them.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:07 pm 
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Viahope
Post subject: Forgiveness Is Not...
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:46 pm


Forgiveness is not

1. Approving or Diminishing
2. Enabling Sin
3. Denying a Wrongdoing
4. Waiting for an Apology
5. Forgetting
6. Ceasing to Confront the Pain
7. A One Time Event
8. Neglecting Justice
9. Trusting
10. Reconciliation

I find that Pastor Mark Driscoll's explanation on this is very accurate and helpful.
(See original post with video at http://blog.marshillchurch.org/2010/09/27/10-things-forgiveness-is-not/)

And I say this … with a tremendous sense of love and empathy and compassion and hope for you. But you need to forgive that person or those people who have wounded you most deeply. …

Because I think many Christians do not rightly ascertain what forgiveness truly is and is not, and so I’ve got a long list for you:

1. Forgiveness is not approving or diminishing sin.
It’s not saying, “Well, it’s okay. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes a mistake,” or, “It’s not a really big deal. Worse things have happened.” No, it is a big deal! It’s so big that God died for it. So don’t dishonor the cross of Jesus and approve or diminish something that required the death of God.

2. Forgiveness is not enabling sin.
I see this frequently with wives who misunderstand submission. “Okay, the husband is the head of the home, he’s supposed to lovingly lead.” Great. He’s supposed to lovingly lead by following Jesus, and if he’s not following Jesus, the wife shouldn’t follow him because her ultimate allegiance is to Jesus and the first job description of the wife is to be a helper. And sometimes husbands are foolish. They make stupid decisions financially. They make reckless decisions spiritually. They buck godly, spiritual authority trying to correct them. And in the name of forgiving them, the wife comes along and enables him. She just is complicit in his rebellion and sin and folly.

You can forgive someone without enabling their sin, participating in it. You can have a friend or a family member who is an addict, for example, you can forgive them without enabling them. Forgiving is not enabling. Forgiving can even include confronting and rebuking, and sometimes it must.

3. Forgiveness is not denying a wrongdoing.
“It didn’t happen. I forgot all about it. I just moved on. I pretend like it never happened. I didn’t let it affect me.” That’s not true. It’s not the denial of a wrongdoing. Forgiveness is not denying that you were sinned against.

4. Forgiveness is not waiting for an apology.
Some of you say, “I will forgive them as soon as they say they’re sorry.” I hate to break it to you, some people are never going to apologize. Some people are going to continue in their destructive, rebellious, and foolish life course. Some people will be stubborn and religious and self-righteous and they’ll never confess or admit. Some people will move away, you’ll never speak with them again. Some people will die before they articulate repentance. And so you forgive them before they apologize.

5. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
This is one of the great Christian myths. “Well, we forgive and forget.” No we don’t! You can’t forgive and forget. You can’t. You were raped, molested, abandoned, beaten, abused, cheated on, betrayed, lied about. “Forget it”? You can’t forget it. It’s impossible. And some will appeal to Bible books like Jeremiah, where it says that God will remember their sin no more. And they’ll say, “See? God doesn’t remember our sin.” And let me tell you this, God does remember our sin. He’s omniscient, he’s all knowing, he forgets nothing, he knows everything. Right? It’s not like God’s in heaven going, “I forgot a whole bunch of things.” He would cease to be God.

What does it mean that God remembers their sin no more? It means that God chooses not to interact with us based upon what we’ve done, but instead interact with us based upon what Christ has done. It means that he chooses to see us as new creations and he chooses to work for a new future. It means that at the forefront of God’s thinking toward us is not all of the sin that we’ve committed, but all the work that Jesus has done for us and in us and, by grace, will do through us. But it’s not like God has no idea what you did yesterday. He forgets nothing.

And I see this sometimes in counseling, where one person will sin against another person and they’ll say, “Well, you shouldn’t even remember that.” It’s impossible. I had one situation recently. I looked at the husband, I was like, “You slept with her best friend. She’s not going to forget that ever. Now, she can choose not to interact with you in light of that. She could choose to forgive you. She can choose to not be stewing on that every minute of every day and seething. But she’s never going to forget that this happened because it was cataclysmic.”

6. Forgiveness is not ceasing to feel the pain.
Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you’ve failed to forgive. It still hurts. Some of you have had horrible things done to you. Horrible things done to you. With all sincerity, I’m sorry. And it would be so cruel to say, “Well, if you’ve forgiven them, it shouldn’t hurt anymore.” Well, sure it does. See, we don’t hear in the Bible that all the tears are wiped from our eyes until the resurrection of the dead in the final unveiling of the kingdom. It means people are crying all the way to Jesus. It still hurts. It’s okay for it to bother you.

7. Forgiveness is not a onetime event.
It’s not like you forgive someone and it’s over. Sometimes, they keep sinning, so you need to keep forgiving. Or sometimes you forgive them, but there are emotional moments where it feels fresh.

There’s one woman that I know, her husband committed adultery on her. And he earnestly repented and she honestly forgave him and they have sought biblical counseling and they have worked it out. But she confesses there are times, sometimes even at church, where her husband is doing nothing wrong, and it’s been some years, that she’ll just see him talking to another woman, maybe even a mutual friend, and just the sight of him with another woman causes her to feel all of that betrayal again and it rises up in her soul. And she needs to forgive him again for what he did in the past. Sometimes forgiveness is something that is regularly required.

8. Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.
You can forgive someone and call the police and have them arrested. You can forgive someone and testify against them in court. Romans 13 says to obey the government. They’d say, “I thought you forgave me.” “I do. I forgive you. But you’ve committed a crime. You’ve broken the law. And so these are the consequences.” If you’ve stolen, you need to pay it back. If you’ve lied, you need to go tell the truth. It’s not a neglecting of justice. You can forgive and pursue justice.

9. Forgiveness is not trusting.
I hear this all the time. “My dad molested me. He said he’s sorry. Can he babysit my kids?” Answer? No way. No way. “My boyfriend or husband hit me, but he said he’s sorry. Should we just pick up where we left off and keep going?” No way. See, trust is built slowly. It’s lost quickly. Trust is built slowly.

Those of you, now hear this, I’m your pastor who loves you. Let me put an airbag around this. For those of you who are naive and gullible, trust is to be given slowly, lost quickly. Some of you give your whole heart away and never take it back. Give it away slowly and if someone sins against you grievously, trust has to be rebuilt over time. It’s not trusting. It’s not trusting. Some people can be trusted in time with fruit and keeping with repentance after they’ve gotten help. Other people should never be trusted because the risk is simply too high. This is particularly true with children who are vulnerable. We need to be exceedingly careful with who we trust.

10. Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
It’s not that you’re friends and you hang out and everything’s okay. You’re close and it’s back to normal. Not at all. It takes one person to repent. It takes one person to forgive. It takes two people to reconcile. That’s why Paul says, “In as much as it is possible with you, seek to live at peace with all men.” Here’s what he’s saying. Do your best, but you can’t be at peace with everyone. But if it doesn’t work out, make sure it’s their fault, not yours. Right? It takes two people to reconcile.

My personal addition to these points: I have never known a pedophile who was truly repentant, truthfully admitted to their crime in it's entirety, and actually turned completely away from the sin that so easily besets them. So from my perspective, if we are waiting for genuine repentance before we can forgive, we will never be able to come to a place of forgiveness. My challenge was to come to understand what spirit it was that God wanted to create in my own heart, so that my own serenity and joy would not be tied in any way to some action or admission I was wanting to see demonstrated by our perpetrator. I needed peace in my heart. When I understood what forgiveness was not, then the Gentle Shepherd was able to show me what it was.
Raz


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:08 pm 
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[So from my perspective, if we are waiting for genuine repentance before we can forgive, we will never be able to come to a place of forgiveness.]

What I'm wondering about the above statement, is why are we to forgive someone who is unrepentant, when God doesn't? I'm no theologian, but I thought forgiveness from God required repentance. Does anyone know of an instance in the Bible where God forgave someone who refused to repent? Surely, he couldn't expect us to do something (as weak human beings) that he wouldn't do.
Of course, we aren't to become bitter and hateful towards the offender, but, it seems to me forgiving is an entirely different thing......"to pardon, overlook, free them from deserved punishment." My definition, and it may be flawed. Maybe I should look it up in Wikipedia.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:16 pm 
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BFuddled started this thread, and I hope I haven't steered it in an unhelpful direction, but I would like to respond to your good and valid question, Grieving4u.

I can only speak for myself, and my own experience is not criticism-proof, but I will still explain my perspective, for your consideration.

When I said in an earlier post that I gave myself permission to re-define forgiveness, I didn't base it on a dictionary definition, or even on Scripture verses. So I may be way off-base, but the peace in my heart is something I would not want to lose.

For me, my spirit of unforgiveness was like a chain that kept me tethered to Les Emory, the man who molested my daughters. My need to see remorse and repentance from him, hear words of contrition and true apology from him, my desire for him to REALLY grasp the ways in which his sin had permanently wounded my daughters in ways that would completely alter who they were and who they would become, and my desire to witness him pay, and pay, and pay in the most excruciating ways for what he had done to us and to many, many other MKs and their families ... this need of mine kept me tied to him.

Forgiveness, for me, came when I severed that chain. I turned Les over to God. I let him go. I decided not to put my life on hold, waiting to see all those things I thought I needed to see from him. When I cut that tie, I felt like someone who'd been trying to swim the ocean with a putrifying dead body tied to me. I let go of that weight, and there I was ... I could feel the sand under my feet, and with great relief I splashed up out of the angry waters and up onto dry land. In the sunshine of God's amazing grace and love, my spirit opened back up and I found joy again.

That's the best way I know to describe it.

But I agree with all the above points in ViaHope's post. I do not in any way minimize the vile, evil sins Les Emory committed. I hurt unspeakably over every single thing he did to every single child. I believe with all my heart that he does need to be penalized for his heinous crimes, by being incarcerated without chance of pardon or parole, for every day of the rest of his pathetic life.

But I cut him loose and let him sink. I chose not to let myself be pulled down into the sea of depression, despair and unforgiveness. He wasn't worth it.

I chose life.

I hope that helps you understand just one story of forgiveness. My story.

Raz


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:29 pm 
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Raz, your story has me in tears. Thank you for sharing it. It should also go in the forum about writings that promote healing (I'm going to put it there - hope that's ok).


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:37 pm 
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Raz....Thanks for your eloquent description of forgiveness.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:46 pm 
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Raz - you have spoken so clearly. I will re-read this often. God has given you rich words to share your heart. I especially like the words about your daughters who were changed forever from who they might have been.. And the illustration of the swimming in the ocean with the dead weight of Les Emory and letting his pathetic life sink...

Free - but wanting justice. I concur!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:54 am 
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Grieving 4u wrote:
[So from my perspective, if we are waiting for genuine repentance before we can forgive, we will never be able to come to a place of forgiveness.]

What I'm wondering about the above statement, is why are we to forgive someone who is unrepentant, when God doesn't? I'm no theologian, but I thought forgiveness from God required repentance. Does anyone know of an instance in the Bible where God forgave someone who refused to repent? Surely, he couldn't expect us to do something (as weak human beings) that he wouldn't do.

Of course, we aren't to become bitter and hateful towards the offender, but, it seems to me forgiving is an entirely different thing......"to pardon, overlook, free them from deserved punishment." My definition, and it may be flawed. Maybe I should look it up in Wikipedia.


"Forgiveness" is a word that is often used to mean something other than what it means in Scripture. Your question about an instance in the Bible where God forgave someone who refused to repent is valid when we are talking about forgiveness from a Scriptural perspective, which I invite you to do on the "Picky, picky, picky" thread! Such uses as "forgive oneself" and "forgive God" are clearly NOT taught in the Bible. But, this thread is not the place to notice that.

To understand what a person means by "forgiveness" or "healing" on this forum, we have to look at the context in which they use it. Sometimes, they mean something that is valid, they just appropriated a word for it that doesn't necessarily match the concept as it is presented in the Bible. Popular definitions are something we always have to deal with, and it is almost impossible to overcome them. About the most that can be hoped for is to invite people to look at how the Bible uses those particular words, and modify/ qualify our own usages of them by saying something like "When the Bible speaks of forgiveness, it talks about. . . " Or, what you are calling "forgiveness" is what the Bible calls. . . ." Emerald's post above is a good example of how to do that; I also invite Emerald to post on the "Picky" thread.

I do not deprecate accuracy in our use of words, and my choice of "picky" and the various forms of "pedant" for that thread are lighthearted. There is nothing wrong with using words in their Scriptural sense, especially when we are talking about Scriptural concepts. Doing otherwise creates confusion. However, the immediate need is to understand one another, and to do that we have to listen very carefully to what others are saying, and what they mean when they use words that we might construe somewhat differently.

Bitter, hate, revenge, punishment and a couple of handsful of other words are in the same general category.


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