excerpted from Forgiving the Unforgivable by Dave Stoop
1. Forgiveness always involves the moral side of life. It involves our sense of right and wrong, of fairness and of justice. It also involves our sense of love, compassion and mercy. When someone violates us with a seemingly unforgivable act, at least some of these values have been violated.
2. Revenge, no matter how just, can never bring satisfaction, for it can never replace what has been destroyed. It also brings us down to the level of the offender. Staying with vengeful thoughts is like playing an endless and painful video in our minds over and over again.
3. In Colossians 2:13, Paul describes forgiveness, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins”. Why do some of us want to make certain things “unforgivable”?
4. “Forgive and forget” is a common belief that keeps us from forgiving in the first place. God forgives and forgets, (Jeremiah 31:34, Ps. 103:12) so why shouldn’t we? To “forgive and remember” is the way of healing, not from resentment or retaliation, but to learn and grow. When we experience real forgiveness, there is more to remember than pain. We are reminded of what God has done and is doing in our lives through his forgiving us and our forgiving them.
5. Forgiving other people does not in any way benefit or let them off the hook. It allows us to cancel the debt they owe us, which in all probability they can never repay anyway. We are the ones who are freed from the expectation of restitution for the wrongs done to us.
6. For there to be genuine reconciliation, I need to forgive, and the other person needs to show godly sorrow over what he or she has done. Forgiveness is required of us as believers, but reconciliation is optional and depends on the attitude of the offender.
7. We tend to choose the path of bitterness when we get caught up with wanting to understand the reasons for the offense. We think if we could only understand why the other person did what he or she did, then I could get over it and let it go. This leads to isolation and aloneness as we obsess over the painful event.
8. We need to be careful that we do not take forgiveness out of its spiritual context, however, because forgiveness can best be understood only in the context of our being forgiven by God. The theological and spiritual roots of forgiveness are what give it its healing power. Apart from that it can be a helpful tool but never to the same degree as when it is connected to the reality of God’s forgiveness of us.
9. Forgiveness is not a simple process, sometimes a miracle occurs and other times we plod along moving toward forgiveness. God always honors the move toward forgiveness; it is His plan for us.
10. When we forgive we are giving God the opportunity to work miracles in our lives in His way and His time.