What is forgiveness or forgiving?
Forgiveness is the human action of getting rid of a guilt, an offense, a debt, etc. Forgiveness is a mental process aimed at eliminating any resentment, anger, grudge or other negative feeling about a particular person or for oneself.
Etymologically, the word "forgiveness" comes from the Latin 'perdonare' which means to action of forgiving, that is, accepting or apologizing; make amends for something wrong. The expression "ask for forgiveness" is used when someone recognizes their mistake and apologizes to the person with whom they were unfair. Example: "I wanted to apologize for being late".
In the religious sphere, the concept of forgiveness is related to the so-called "process of spiritual purification", an idea that is present in almost all religious doctrines, and which consists of eliminating feelings harmful to man, such as anger, hurt or the desire for revenge.
The idea of "God's forgiveness" is common in all religious doctrines. When an individual commits any action considered a sin or that is the opposite of the norms proposed by a certain religion, he/she must ask God for forgiveness of his/her sins, through prayers or penances.
What does the Bible say about Forgiving?
To forgive means to excuse a mistake or an offense. In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means "to let go". It is like someone giving up paying a debt. Jesus used this comparison when he taught his followers to pray: "Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us." (Luke 11:4) Also, in the illustration of the unwilling slave, Jesus likened forgiveness to canceling a debt, Matthew 18:23-35.
We forgive others when we stop holding grudges. In addition, we waive any compensation for the grievances or losses we have incurred. The Bible teaches that true forgiveness comes from a love that does not seek its own interests. This love "does not count mistakes" 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.
TO FORGIVE DOES NOT MEAN . . .
Turn a blind eye to the mistakes of others. In fact, the Bible condemns anyone who thinks wrong actions are harmless or acceptable Isaiah 5:20.
Pretend like nothing happened. God forgave King David's serious sins, but did not release him from the consequences of his actions. God even had David's sins written in the Bible; thus they are remembered to this day 2 Samuel 12:9-13.
Allowing others to take advantage of you. For example, imagine you lend money to a friend, but he squanders it all and then fails to pay you back as promised. He repents and apologizes. You can decide to forgive him. This means that you would not hold a grudge or talk about it. Maybe even decide to forgive the entire debt. Even so, you may not want to lend that friend any more money Psalm 37:21; Proverbs 14:15; 22:3; Galatians 6:7.
Sorry for any and all mistakes. God does not forgive people who have committed cruel, willful sins and refuse to acknowledge their mistakes, make changes, and apologize to those who have been wronged (Proverbs 28:13; Acts 26:20; Hebrews 10:26). Unrepentant sinners make God's enemies, and he does not require us to forgive those he does not forgive Psalm 139:21, 22.
What if you are the victim of a cruel act and the person who did it refuses to apologize and admit the wrong? The Bible gives this advice: "Let anger alone and abandon rage" (Psalm 37:8). Even if you do not excuse the mistake, you can keep anger from taking over. Trust that God will judge the person (Hebrews 10:30-31). How comforting it is to know that soon God will remove from our heart whatever hurt or pain we have to endure, however deep it may be Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:4.
"Excuse" every apparent slip by people. Sometimes the question is not whether or not we will forgive an apparent slip-up. In some cases, we need to acknowledge that we have been offended for no real reason. The Bible says: "Do not be easily offended, for taking offense is the mark of fools" Ecclesiastes 7:9.
And how do you forgive?
- Remember what forgiveness involves. Forgiving does not mean turning a blind eye to others' mistakes or pretending nothing happened. You simply let go of holding resentment.
- Recognise that forgiving has benefits. Letting go of anger and resentment can help you stay calm, improve your health, and increase your happiness (Proverbs 14:30; Matthew 5:9). More importantly, the key to earning God's forgiveness is forgiving others Matthew 6:14-15.
- Put yourself in the shoes of others. We are all imperfect (James 3:2). We appreciate it when others forgive us. Therefore, we must also forgive others Matthew 7:12.
- Be reasonable. When dealing with a minor offense, we can apply the Bible’s advice: "Continue putting up with one another" Colossians 3:13.
- Do not delay. Make an effort to forgive as soon as possible instead of allowing anger to overwhelm you Ephesians 4:26-27.