Forgiveness and faith: hand in hand?
Forgiveness and faith go hand and hand … or do they? That was the question I posed recently, having just returned from a Religion Newswriters Association Conference where the topic of forgiveness was widely discussed.
A few readers said faith can hinder the forgiveness process.
Cheryl from Warr Acres said: “Faith generally promotes the right vs. wrong, good vs. bad and us vs. them mentality that blocks true forgiveness. Only when we understand that other people are doing the best they can with the awareness and resources that they have can we even begin to grant true forgiveness. Not the concept of ‘I’m a spiritual (good) person so I forgive you, you worthless (bad) heathen’!!!”
More folks disagreed. They said they believe faith is a necessary component of forgiveness. In other words, they said, you can’t have true forgiveness without a foundation of faith as a starting point.
Barbara wrote: “Forgiveness is not a natural (fallen) response. The response of the fallen nature to an injustice is revenge. Civil laws usually restrain this reaction. Only those who experienced God’s forgiveness through grace (undeserved favor) would seriously consider true forgiveness — really wiping the slate clean. And this is prompted by Jesus’ command to forgive others. But I believe the act of true forgiveness is a supernatural gift, provided by the Holy Spirit when we ask Him to do that which we are unable to pull off. We want to be obedient and forgive, but the old nature often prevents our doing so. We ask His help and when it’s given, true forgiveness results.”
And Vince wrote: “As one who has had to deal with forgiveness on many levels I would have to say, yes, faith is necessary for forgiveness. No matter one’s religion, to have faith is to have a personal relationship with the Creator and to acknowledge one’s bent toward trespass. For myself to forgive and forget means to acknowledge the wrong committed and to accept the apology and then forget to beat myself and the other person up emotionally over the offense. I personally think it is not quite possible to forget the offense, but by saying “I forgive you,” I am telling myself, the offender and my God I am not going to allow that offense to consume me and that it is now time to move on. If the offender is not truly sorry, that is a matter over which I have no control. I can only accept the request for forgiveness as being sincere at that moment and I can only pray that the person I have offended will treat me in the same way.”
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