forgiveForgiving.  It’s basic Christianity, right? It’s fundamental. It’s like a required course for all Christians, Forgiveness 101. You gotta take it. Every single student has to enroll in this class. So we take the course. We think we figure it out. We know we have to forgive in order to be forgiven. We breathe prayers, “Lord, I forgive __________.” That should cover it, huh? And then we find out that the course has a second semester, Forgiveness 102. So we enroll because we have to. We think we get the material and we’ll sort of have this stuff conquered. And then we find there is Forgiveness 201 and 202 and 301 and 302 and 401 and 402.  Then for those who will do the work there is Forgiveness 501 and 601 and so it goes.

It’s like peeling layers of an onion. There just always seems to be another layer. Those layers represent all the stuff in our hearts that keep us stuck, the things that keep us from growing, and the things that hinder us from really knowing God and really knowing ourselves.

Jesus told us that it was impossible to live in this world without offenses coming to us. We will be offended at times. We will be hurt by other people. And we will hurt and offend others ourselves. Dealing with these offenses is one of the ways God offers us to do our own soul work. By that I mean the kind of work that God invites us into where we own our own stuff, we discover our own our wrong patterns of thinking, and we allow God to reveal our own hearts to us.

While forgiveness is hard, blaming is easy. It began in the garden. “The serpent did this.” “The woman you gave me, it’s her fault. No, God it’s your fault for giving her to me.”  When sin occurs, offense and blame quickly follow.

Then we must begin the hard work of forgiving. The 101, 201, 301 401, and beyond.

When God’s Spirit whispers to our hearts that we need to forgive someone, we are suddenly confronted with our stubbornness, our pride, our ‘right’ to whatever stance or feeling we are having. At times, a spiritual war ensues. Our two natures both speak their mind. Our fleshly nature calls in all its reinforcements and our spiritual nature stands firmly on the side of righteousness.

No wonder Jesus gave us such explicit instructions on forgiving:

Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Is it just me or do you get the sense that God is not giving us any wiggle room there?

And then, Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

I also want to say that forgiveness does not mean blindly jumping back into harmful relationships. Jesus also modeled wisdom in relationships by saying that he did not commit himself to all men because he knew what was in their hearts. While not every relationship can be restored, every offense can be forgiven.

Is there someone you need to forgive? Will you stop and ask God that? His Spirit will be faithful to show you. Will you take the first step and ask God to help you forgive that person? Will you ask Him to help you access His grace to begin the healing process?

How do we know if we’ve truly forgiven someone?  Can it take time to forgive? What have you found to be helpful in your journey to forgive?

I’d like to hear your comments. Please take a moment and share your thoughts on this. 

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Categories : forgiveness


  1. Thank you again for your wonderful words in this post. I am going to repost on our blog. Many Blessings, Michelle 😉

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