Forgiveness removes the offense as a barrier to future fellowship.
First, forgiving does not mean that we let those who hurt us “off the hook.” They need to pay for what they did. This is what justice is all about. When we forgive we may let them off our “hook,” but they are still on God’s “hook”! Remember the Lord says, “Vengeance is mine.” So, let Him do His work. He dispenses justice in His own time.
Second, forgiving is not a sign of weakness. Forgiveness is a courageous act that integrates the grace, kindness, and compassion of Christ.
Third, forgiving does not mean that we forget what they did to us. The pain of some things is so intense that we will never forget them. Nevertheless, by God’s grace we can forgive them.
Fourth, forgiving doesn’t mean that we restore the relationship with the ones who hurt us as if nothing ever happened. Something did happen. Trust was broken. Circumstances have changed. Abuse occurred. We may choose to establish boundaries, giving the offender the opportunity to regain our trust. We have the freedom to expand the boundary fence if we want to, or to leave it exactly where it is. We can restore the relationship someday if we want—or not restore it at all.
Fifth, you really do want to forgive before deep bitterness and resentment become ingrained.
Sixth, it’s not possible to be at peace with all people (Romans 12:7). As Christians we feel that we are required to fix every broken relationship and live in harmony with all of our brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, some relationships just will not work out. It is okay to leave them behind and go on with others.
Finally, you know that you have forgiven them when you don't want to hurt them anymore.
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