Are you resentful, bitter, angry, fearful, and/or stressed out toward someone who ha hurt you in some way? It has been said that “it takes two to reconcile but only one to forgive.” Certainly there are many reasons to feel these emotions and surely all of us have felt them at some time. Furthermore, forgiveness may be one of the most difficult things to attain. Kerney Franston says this about unforgiveness, “When you don’t forgive someone, in some way that person is in jail, and you are the warden. You’re incarcerated, too, because you have to make sure the prisoner stays there.”

As we begin 2013, it might be helpful to explore some definitions of what forgiveness is and is not.
•Forgiveness does not mean that the wrongs done to you were acceptable.
•Forgiveness does not diminish the evil done against you, nor is it a denial of what happened.
•Forgiveness is a key part of not letting those wrongs hurt you any longer.
•Forgiveness does not take away the consequences the other person will face because of his or her hurt in your life.
•Forgiveness is letting go of your desire to hurt the other person.
•Forgiveness is a difficult and uncomfortable process. When you make a decision to forgive, God provides the grace and strength to forgive and to maintain a heart of forgiveness.
•Forgiveness is not weakness. It is the most powerful thing you can do.
•Forgiveness does not depend on the other person’s actions, and it is not probationary (I’ll forgive you IF…)
•Forgiveness does not require you to become a “doormat” not does it require you to allow the offender to hurt you again.
•Forgiveness is a gift you give to the offender. Trust, on the other hand, must be earned. You must set boundaries.
•Forgiveness is experiencing empathy for the offender, humility about your own wrongs, and gratitude for being forgiven by God and others.

Many of us think of dieting and becoming healthy as a New Year is rung in. Maybe a better way to “lighten our load” would be to forgive.

Excerpts taken from The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Ron Hawkins.