“Forgiveness is God’s invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other.”—Lewis B. Smedes, Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve
- Forgiveness is letting go of the past and releasing the people who hurt us from their wrong. It is to let go of the need to balance the scales of justice, to prove one’s innocence, or to obtain revenge. It is to let go of the punishment that we feel that those who have wronged us deserve. True forgiveness no longer expects or demands that the people who hurt apologize or seek forgiveness as a prerequisite for our pardon.
- Forgiveness is essentially a matter of the heart. This is hugely important because for years I thought that forgiveness was primarily about what I do or what I say. I am a twin. Being a twin did not make me a sinner, but it did speed up the process. As boys we would wrestle, fight, and hurt one another. My mother would come to separate us and then she would say to the one that started it, “Tell him you’re sorry.” To be honest, sometimes I mouthed the words, but my heart was not in it.
It is quite possible to utter kind words of forgiveness toward the ones who hurt us while harboring anger and bitterness within. Forgiveness begins in the heart and eventually work its way outward. People who hurt us will probably not understand, or recognize, or own up to their offense and therefore never see a need to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a work in our heart, first, foremost, and forever.
We will never be set free until we forgive. When we release the hurts and the people that have inflicted them, and we will be set free.