“But aren’t we supposed to forgive, forget, and move on?”
In Part 1 of this series on Forgiveness, I outlined how we have arrived at such a fractured and unbiblical view of what forgiveness is and is not.
In Part 2, I discussed the foundational aspect of forgiveness. The first of the three types of forgiveness in the human experience is JUDICIAL FORGIVENESS.
The second type of forgiveness is INTERNAL FORGIVENESS, and this is the one we are responsible for.
This level of forgiveness is almost impossible unless we have already gone to God and received His (Judicial) forgiveness.
That provides the seed-bed for us to forgive others. If we don’t have that foundation of God’s forgiveness of us as the foundation for our own forgiveness of others, in practice we end up setting our own standards for forgiveness.
What happens is we almost can’t help expecting those people to live up to a standard for forgiveness that we have set in our own heart. We may even be able to rationally explain why our stance on what it will take for us to forgive. But if we have not gone to God and been forgiven in Christ, we have only human standards to work from.
Then it becomes between them and us and not them and God. I have to be able to say that it is between them and God to live up to His standard; not between them and me for them to live up to my standard.
When we are living in unforgiveness, it is like carrying a backpack full of sharp, jagged rocks. We tote them around and, while we may learn to live with the pain and discomfort, our life lacks joy and God’s peace.
When we are able to forgive, we remove those jagged rocks and hand them over to God. We walk away from them and leave them where they belong. When we walk in unforgiveness, we are trying to bear something that is not ours to bear. Let that person be God’s business, not yours. Romans 12:19: Leave room for the wrath of God (“Leave it to Me,” says God).
Internal Forgiveness is NOT “forgive, forget, move on, and leave myself open to be misused/abused all over again.”
Internal Forgiveness is where I no longer demand or expect revenge or retribution for the wrong done to me. It is not me declaring my offender, “Not guilty!” It is me declaring my offender “Responsible to God for what you have done.”
I can do this without being face-to-face with my offender; I can do this with someone who has passed on to their exit interview and who I will not see again in this life. I can do this to someone present in my life, or someone from my past.
By entering into Internal Forgiveness, I am the one who is released from the event(s) that took place. I am not responsible or accountable for the wrongs of another – I am only responsible for what I DO with what others have done to me.
This is connected to Judicial Forgiveness in that both are precursors to the third and final type of forgiveness (which we will examine in the upcoming Part 4), “Relational Forgiveness”.
As we learned in Part 2, God is the only one who can extend JUDICIAL FORGIVENESS. As we learned today in Part 3, we are the only one who is responsible for INTERNAL FORGIVENESS. Next time we will see that the offending party has the greatest amount of responsibility and work to do in RELATIONAL FORGIVENESS being extended.