What is forgiveness and why should we forgive

The term forgiveness is used by many without a proper understanding of what it stands for and the things surrounding it. There are different sides to forgiveness, in this piece we shall be driving the understanding of forgiveness and the things that surround why we should forgive. Let’s get to it!

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a conscious process of relieving oneself of feelings of resentment or anger towards a person or group for the harm or pain they have cost you. It simply means you are letting go of the feeling to fight or resent the person or group of people responsible for the pain or hurt.

peace and forgiveness

It is a process because many things are involved. The things involved in the process include taking your mind off what was done, the pain or hurt you got through it, the motive behind what was done, the disposition of other people, and the disposition of the offender. All of these must be carefully dealt with to be able to forgive the offender truly.

What forgiveness is not

Why we talk about what forgiveness is, it is important that we talk about what forgiveness is not that people may be disguised as forgiveness. There are two major things people call forgiveness that it is not. Please see them below;


When people do not have the power to deal with people that offend or hurt them and they let it go, some call that forgiveness. That is not forgiveness because they are still pained that they could not revenge and if they have the opportunity to revenge, they would jump at it. Forgiveness is letting go whether you have the power to revenge or not. Just as Joseph did to his brothers in Genesis.


The second category is when there is so much apology from people and the offender in such a way that if you do anything like revenge, you will be seen as a bad person by those other people. So, in your mind it is not like you forgave, you just let it go so that you won’t be tagged as a bad person who does not value people. That is not true forgiveness because the resentment is still there.


Facts about forgiveness

There are facts that enable us to understand things in a clear and concise form. The facts draw our attention to nuggets about the issue. In the same vein, there are nuggets that can give us a clearer picture of forgiveness with its anchors. Please see few of those forgiveness facts below;


Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean that the person being forgiven has apologized for the wrong. This means that forgiving someone is not a function of whether or not they apologize for the issue or pain they have caused you.


Also, forgiving someone does not necessarily mean that the offender or an accomplice is aware of your pain or resentment with which you feel an apology has to come. This means that it is possible for people to offend you and not know it let alone apologize. 


Forgiveness is always a matter of choice when we look at it from a human’s perspective. This means whether people apologize or not, it still lies in the hand of the person that is offended or hurt to choose to forgive or otherwise. That simply says that forgiveness is not automatic after apologizing.


Furthermore, when we look at forgiveness from God’s perspective, it is not a choice. It is a command. We all are commanded to forgive one another and try as much as possible to be at peace with all men. And God expects us to yield to His command which means God expects us to forgive. 


Forgiveness is a heart matter. True forgiveness comes from the heart. This is why many people say they have forgiven someone but they do not. You only forgive when it is done from your heart. Anything outside that is just a show of words.


The cost of forgiveness

Have you ever heard that forgiveness is free? Many people say forgiveness is free but I don’t think so. Well, there are two ways to look at it. If we look at it in these two ways, we will see it is free from one while it is costly in the other. So, whether you are saying forgiveness is free or costly depends on the side you are looking at.


From the side of the offender who is seeking to be forgiven, forgiveness is free. This is because what was done has been done already. It would probably just require him to ask or beg for forgiveness. Not more than that. At most, he may need to call one or more people to do the begging for him. But he is not the one doing the forgiveness.


However, on the part of the person who is hurt or pained, for him to forgive the offender, it is not free. There is a cost that comes with that. First is the pain caused by the issue and then the aftermath of the issue which makes him feel the pain. Even though he is still having the pain, he will need to look above the pain to forgive. That is a price that is high enough. 


Why do you need to forgive?

Many people have this question over and over again. They want to know why they need to forgive. We will need to keep providing the answer as far as the question comes. Well, take your focus off the pain a bit to be able to get the answer. Because with the pain, you are likely not going to see any reason to forgive. Here are important reasons why you need to forgive;


The first is that God commands us all to forgive anyone that offends us. Why it may sound difficult, remember that God who gave us the command forgives us from time to time. Psalm 130:3 says if God marks iniquities who shall stand. God keeps forgiving us to keep us alive. He wants us to do the same as His creatures. Forgive one another.


You need to be reminded that your revenge is not God’s justice. The Bible already says we should leave all to God. He knows what to do with the individual or group of people who may have offended you. Release all things to God and find a way in your heart to forgive. 


You need to forgive others because it is the first step to healing from the pain the person may have caused you. The pain will keep increasing for as long as you keep the pain within you. Heal from the pain and hurt by letting it go.

Also Read: How to Pray for Forgiveness

Unforgiveness can destroy and kill you if you have it in you. You need to have fresh air of God into your spirit. Resentment and anger will burn you down. It will first keep you at a spot and then kill you. This is why Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian church to lay aside bitter words in Ephesians 3:31-32. Do the same as the child of God. 


How to forgive the right way

Well, forgiveness is not just when you say “I forgive you”, it is more than that. Between the hurt or pain you got from the issue and the moment you utter those three words, a lot of things are hidden behind the scene. Those things are true forgiveness. They comprise what it means to forgive and how to forgive. 


First, acknowledge the fact that you are hurt or pained because of the issue. Don’t override your emotions because you are trying to be strong. There is a lot of strength in acknowledging your pain. This is the starting point of forgiveness. 


Next is to do what makes you alleviate pain or hurt. Some people eat more while some may just take a stroll. Whatever that will take out of the pain, please do it. Take your time with this because you have started the healing process already.


Ask for help. At this stage, you really cannot do this by yourself sometimes. Please ask for help from God and man. From God, pray that God will heal your heart as you forgive the offender. And for men, talk to a psychologist or counselor to help you gain your balance. This third stage is very important. Make sure you follow it through. 


Control your thought. Whatever that will make you think resentfully or think bad of the offender, please avoid it at all costs. Follow through Romans 12:1-2 to work on your mind. Keep your mind busy with the word of God and songs to help you stay off as you forgive. If you don’t get this right, you may find out that you will still be holding the person in mind.

Lastly, pray for the person that offended you. The prayer should be something that will come from your heart truly. When you pray for people genuinely, you can hold anything against them. This is an important part of the forgiveness process. 

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