“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34, NIV
Forgiveness may be the most misused, misapplied, and misunderstood quality in our culture. There are a multitude of myths about forgiveness. Here are just a few: forgiveness must be asked for or earned, forgiveness minimizes personal pain and hurt, and forgiveness restores full trust and reunites a relationship.
Real forgiveness is unconditional. There’s no attachment to it. You don’t earn it, nor do you deserve it. You don’t bargain for it. Forgiveness is not based on a promise to never repeat the offense again. You forgive because it follows Jesus’ example. When Jesus stretched out His hands on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” nobody earned it or asked for it. Jesus took the initiative and offered forgiveness.
Forgiveness also doesn’t minimize the seriousness of the offense. When somebody asks for your forgiveness, you actually cheapen it if you say, “It’s no big deal. It really didn’t hurt.” If it wasn’t a big deal, then they don’t need your forgiveness.
Forgiveness isn’t the same as trust. When someone hurts you, you need to forgive them, but you don’t need to trust them like you did before. You can’t guard your heart if you trust people who aren’t worthy of your trust.
On our own power, this kind of forgiveness isn’t possible. But the power to forgive comes from Jesus. Remember God’s unconditional love for you, and express that love to those who hurt you.