Book Report on Real Marriage – What forgiveness is not (Episode 23)

16 Feb
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Learn how important forgiveness is for your relationship and the 9 things forgiveness is not!

EPISODE 23
Book Report on Real Marriage – What forgiveness is not

THIS EPISODE BROUGHT TO YOU BY
The Smalley Center, find out why over 96% of our former clients would recommend our 1, 2, or 3 day marriage intensive to a friend or family member in need of help. Rediscover happiness at SmalleyCenter.com.

KEY VERSE

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

NOTES

When we are sinned against, we need to forgive quickly. Jesus’ words on this are haunting: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”a We cannot simply ask God to forgive our sins; we must also extend that same forgiveness to others. (Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 91). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)

It is important to note, however, what forgiveness is not:

Forgiveness is not denying, approving, or diminishing sin that is committed against us.
Forgiveness is not naivety.
Forgiveness is not enabling sin.
Forgiveness is not waiting for someone to acknowledge sin, apologize, and repent.
Forgiveness is not forgetting about sin committed against us.
Forgiveness is not dying emotionally and no longer feeling the pain of the transgression.
Forgiveness is not a one-time event.
Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
Forgiveness is not neglecting justice.

Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (pp. 92-93). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Forgiveness is loving despite sin. (Driscoll, Mark (2012-01-03). Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together (p. 94). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)

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2 Responses to “Book Report on Real Marriage – What forgiveness is not (Episode 23)”

  1. Wendy February 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    So many true and helpful comments here, especially about the various stumbling blocks that wounded people falsely see in the prospect of forgiveness: that it’s letting the offender off the hook, that it makes me look like a patsy, that it means I have to be okay with the behavior now, etc. I’ve seen this over and over in working with women in hard marriages.

    I’m wondering, though, about your premise that “forgiveness is not for the other person, forgiveness is for YOU” … where is that coming from, biblically? Can you explain a little further? It seems that you might be conflating “benefits of forgiveness” with “here’s why you should forgive” (or if you’re not doing that, at least it’s dangerously likely that people will perceive the phrase that way.) I see the primary reason for forgiveness as simple obedience to God’s command, an appropriate act of submitting to God’s way of loving, because we are rendered weaponless when we see the stunning forgiveness we have been granted by God. In a sense, forgiveness is not “for” the other person OR for me, so much as it is for God — for the display of his glorious grace.

    The reason this concerns me is 1) it is being emphasized as the core of the whole concept you’re teaching and 2) it seems to put SELF at the center of one’s motivation for forgiveness.

    Yes, real forgiveness releases bitterness, yes it enables me to experience grace, yes it protects me from harboring “junk” so I can move on. Living in shalom always brings LIFE. But it’s possible that making the starting point, the motivator, for forgiving be “this is for YOU” — even if the benefits to me truly are good and spiritual — can lead to a rather shallow or even begrudging kind of forgiveness (“okay, I’ll forgive because I’m not going to let your sin further poison me and my walk with God, but please be clear this is not something I’m doing for YOU. I still hope that you get everything bad that’s coming to you.”) In fact, one woman I worked with was told something similar by a counselor, and at one point said that for this reason she had decided to forgive her husband (and believed she had), yet her bitterness and ill-will for him was still painfully evident.

    When I love (forgive) someone the way Christ loves (forgives) me — completely outside of what’s “deserved” — that act of grace is for BOTH of us: I get the benefit of obeying and abiding in Christ’s love, and the other person gets the benefit of experiencing God’s grace and love overflowing from me. If I’m not jazzed about the other person getting any benefits from that act, I probably am not truly offering grace.

    Please forgive ME if my take on this talk is way off — I listened to it several times, but I do understand the limitations of excerpts. The repetition of the phrase “forgiveness is for YOU” — and my concern about how that might be heard — leads to my questioning.

    Grace,
    Wendy

    • Michael Smalley February 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      Thanks for your very thoughtful question. I think you don’t want to confuse “You” with self-centeredness. Jesus even tells us that before we can even begin to love him or other, we must first love ourselves. But we love ourselves, and we forgive others, so that we honor God’s commands and free up our spirit to receive God’s love. Forgiveness is for me because it is all about me releasing the hurt and giving it over to God. I can’t rely on any other person to help me forgive or even to make me forgive. Forgiveness is my personal acknowledgement to God that I’ve been hurt or sinned against, and I’m choosing to love instead of being bitter.

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