People often think that forgiveness is about letting another person off the hook. This type of belief leads to a hesitancy in wanting to forgive because there is a feeling that the person who did the hurting needs to suffer for their deed. Therefore, people carry unforgiveness in their heart like a weapon of revenge, when it’s probably more harmful to them than the person they hold a grudge against.
Often forgiveness is thought of as something we offer to a person who has hurt us. While there is truth to that, there is another way of framing the purpose of forgiveness. It is about putting accountability where it belongs. It is not our responsibility nor is it possible for us to free another person of responsibility for what he/she did to hurt us.
The resentment we have towards the other person probably has little if any bearing on them, yet we shoulder the negative impact or weight of it. The burden gets heavier when those feelings start to interfere with our other relationships. That’s why it’s important to learn how and why to forgive.
When we forgive someone, we are really freeing ourselves of the hurt and anger that haunts our spirit. It frees us of the obsessive need we have to get retribution from that person. We are then able to move forward in our lives rather than stay stuck in anger and bitterness.
To forgive someone is to let ourselves off the hook. It is about caring for ourselves and making our relationship right with God. We can never control what other people do, but we can control what we do and how we respond. We don’t have the power to let someone else off the hook—only God has that ability.
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