From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 13 – Some common errors and areas of confusion about what forgiveness is and how, and why, we are to do it
17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.Leviticus 19:17-18 (ESV)
10If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.Corinthians 2:10-11 (NIV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.Romans 12:17 (RSV)
Most people misunderstand what forgiveness is. They then reject it, or fail to achieve it, because their definition is wrong
Many of us have such an inaccurate understanding of forgiveness that we reject the very idea as being unrealistic. We can’t accept the unbiblical concept that we mistakenly have in mind when the word ‘forgiveness’ is used. Therefore we don’t even try to do it. Others do attempt it, even repeatedly, but because their definition of forgiveness is wrong, they don’t succeed.
Therefore they become discouraged and give up. They may never realise that the things they were trying to do were not necessarily what God means by forgiveness. They could have succeeded, and still could succeed, if they only understood correctly what God actually wants them to do in their particular circumstances.
God is the most sensible, practical, reasonable and realistic person in the whole universe. Therefore, if the very idea of forgiveness seems to you to be absurdly idealistic, impractical, and even impossible, then that indicates that you have probably misunderstood what you are being commanded to do.
God would not command you to do something which is impossible. Neither would He say anything unrealistic or impractical. So, if we feel that He is being unrealistic, that should prompt us to look again at the definitions of the words we are dealing with.