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
Probably the main reason why so few Christians understand forgiveness correctly is that there is so little teaching on it. It is either taught poorly by church leaders, who don’t know what it really means, or it is not taught at all. The latter is the normal position. When did you ever hear a useful, practical and biblical sermon on what forgiveness is and how and why you should forgive others? I haven’t heard one in the last 25 years at least. Indeed, I don’t think I have ever heard one.
Why is that? Perhaps one reason is that forgiveness is difficult, even if correctly defined, and probably impossible if wrongly defined. Thus many preachers find, in their own personal experience, that forgiving others has not been a success. So, because few men want to discuss their own failures or difficulties, the whole subject is avoided.
Another probable reason is that the subject of forgiveness is a difficult one for church members to listen to. Thus, if a church leader is the kind of man who wants to be liked, as many are, then he will avoid teaching on any subject which is controversial, or makes people feel uncomfortable. He won’t want to say anything which has the potential to remind them of their grievances and get them stirred up.
However, perhaps the main reason that forgiveness is not preached on is that many leaders just don’t understand it themselves. That is probably because they too have not been properly taught about it. There are very few good books on the subject of forgiveness and preachers themselves have not heard any good biblical sermons on it, which they can copy or download.