Have You Really Forgiven?

Forgiveness is challenging. One of its challenges is that people think that they have forgiven, when they really haven’t. Christians know they’re supposed to forgive, so they convince themselves that they have, but their heart is still unforgiving. The problem is that then they stop working on forgiveness, telling themselves they’ve already taken care of that. They are deceived. In my work as a conflict coach, I frequently encounter people who insist that they have forgiven, although it doesn’t really sound like it to me. It can be challenging to help them see that they haven’t quite arrived.

I recently heard author Lysa TerKeurst speak on Moody Radio about a way to discern whether you’ve truly forgiven. She said you should listen to the story you tell yourself, and others, about the incident or event. How are you describing it? Is it about you, and the details of what happened, or is it about the life lesson you learned from the experience? ┬áIf you’ve forgiven, your focus is on the experiential wisdom that you gained along the way. She reminded us that forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s an act of obedience. As many have noted, if you wait until you feel like forgiving, you will never forgive. But, even after you’ve resolved to forgive, it can be hard to discern whether you’re there; this is one way to assess that.

This and other nuggets on forgiveness are in Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget.