In Part 1 of this blog series we looked at Exodus 8 and how Pharaoh waited a day to have Moses ask God to get rid of the frogs. Carrying unforgiveness around in your heart is like carrying a bunch of frogs around with you. Forgiveness allows us to get rid of these frogs. If you did not read Part 1 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 2, I shared a bit about my personal story and my journey to learn what real forgiveness was. If you did not read Part 2 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 3, I discussed the ideas of admitting we need help, taking responsibility for our own happiness, stop putting it off, and turning your mess into your message. If you did not read Part 3 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 4, I discussed the two major turning points in my life and how one of those turning points involved true forgiveness. If you did not read Part 4 of this blog series, you can read it here.
I can’t take all the credit for the things I will be writing about forgiveness. Several of the ideas and lists come from notes I took from a sermon entitled DIY: How Do I Forgive Someone Without Faking It? given by Chip Uhrmacher, the Osage Campus Pastor at Prairie Lakes Church. I thought the sermon was amazing and his ideas he shared in that sermon have stayed with me. I am so thankful to have access to the sermons of such amazing people as those at Prairie Lakes Church. To learn more about this church or to check out some of their sermons, you can visit their website at www.prairielakeschurch.org.
One truth we know about God is that God forgives. Nothing from our past, present, or future is left untouched by God’s grace. We are given the gift of grace and forgiveness even though we have not earned it. As Christians, we get to extend grace and forgiveness to those around us.
Forgiveness is something everyone encounters, but few interact with biblically. Most people land somewhere among those who are willfully holding a grudge, those who are faking forgiveness, or those who simply do not know how to really forgive. We have all been wronged by another person and/or have wronged someone else ourselves, so we can’t afford to walk through life and relationships with misunderstanding, or half-understanding, of what God means when he calls us to forgive.
When we forgive, it is not necessarily for the benefit of the forgiven party or even for the repair of a relationship or situation. The command to forgive comes so we can have a better understanding of the gospel. By truly forgiving, we willingly absorb the cost of what was done to us by not retaliating, seeking revenge or harboring bitterness. In essence, we get a glimpse of what was done for us on the cross. The results are a deeper understanding of the gospel are the repaired relationships and personal freedom you experience by using the Word of God to drive your actions and interactions.
When we allow unforgiveness to dwell in our lives it can lead to crazy behavior. It can make us act in ways that we might not normally act. It can take us to places that we never thought we would go. It impacts all the people around us even if we are not aware of it. It affects our lives in ways we may not even realize. If we keep unforgiveness in our hearts it can even lead to our lives becoming derailed.
What we need to do is let go of our hatred and just forgive people, but sadly, this seems too big of a step for most so we choose another path. This is the path of fake forgiveness. This is where we put on a happy face and tell people that we have forgiven them, but down deep in our hearts, we have not really forgiven them. We learn at an early age, that if we just say the words, “I’m sorry,” people will accept it and everyone can go on with their merry blind lives. The problem with this is that real forgiveness has not really taken place so real healing never takes place. When this happens another frog is created and instead of letting that frog go, we just add him to our backpack full of frogs that we are carrying around with us. Over time that bag can get pretty heavy and be pretty hard to carry around.
Why do we fake forgiveness? Here are four reasons why I think that we fake forgiveness:
It is easier than going through the process of real forgiveness. Jesus clearly commands us, through the Bible that we are to forgive one another. We are to forgive others, just as Christ forgives us.
Colossians 3:12-13 (NIV)
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
The truth is that the process of going through true forgiveness is much harder initially than it is to just fake it. By faking it, you don’t have to explore your emotions or look inside yourself. That can get pretty messy. People naturally are looking for the easiest path to follow. Even though true forgiveness is harder at first, in the long run, true forgiveness will cause us a lot less pain.
We think that other people are worse than we are. The reason we do this is that we do not have a full understanding of the gospel. Let me say this as clearly as I can. God does NOT grade on a curve. This is not like that hard physics class from college where the grading scale was done on a curve so that you could still pass even with a score that would normally be a failing grade. God treats all sins with the same weight. If you sin, you fail and get death. Each one of us has sinned so we all fail. We all deserve death. The only reason that any of us are forgiven is because Jesus took our sin away with His death. It is through believing in Jesus that we are saved. God sees us all as equals. God does not have favorites. God loves us all equally. People are not like that though. We have our favorites. We love some people more than we love others. We put our own grading scales on sins. We see some sins as more severe than other sins and we judge our forgiveness of these sins based on the severity that we assign to those sins. It is much easier to forgive someone who committed what we view as a minor sin against us than someone who committed a sin against us that we see as more severe. We tend to view the sins of others as being worse than our own sins. We condemn the sins of others and justify our own sins. As long as we have this type of mindset, it makes it very hard for us to truly forgive others.
We don’t want to forgive. The problem with true forgiveness is that we have to face what true forgiveness means in our own lives. Most of us simply don’t want to do that. It can be messy, time-consuming, and it can hurt. We just simply want to try to avoid that at all costs.
We don’t want to lose our ammo. Unforgiveness can be used like a weapon. If someone has done something wrong to us, we can save up this unforgiveness that we are storing in our hearts and use it as ammo to fire back at that person in case we ever do something wrong to them. We try to justify our actions with their actions towards us, even if it happened a long time ago. We try to create our own sense of justice instead of letting God taking care of the justice. This is the act of holding a grudge against someone and it can be more destructive to ourselves than any pain we could ever inflict on someone else.