Forgiveness When You Feel You Have Been Wronged
Have you ever struggled to extend forgiveness when you feel you have been wronged by someone? Yvonne Chase, shares a story of how she extended grace and forgiveness to a woman who unknowingly wronged her online.
One day while hanging out on Twitter, a fellow blogger reached out to me via DM (direct message) to say hello and to see how I’m doing. I found her message odd because while we belong to several groups on Facebook and we hang out in similar blog communities, I’ve had a one-on-one conversation with her.
I replied back with a friendly hello that led to a pleasant back and forth exchange. Connecting with her was refreshing and I welcomed it because I am on a quest to meet and build solid friendships with Christian women.
Her gesture was very nice until she pitched her business to me during the course of our exchange. The look on my face was one of anger and disgust. Pitching her business to me was the real reason she reached out. It wasn’t to say hello and see how I’m doing. She had an agenda and her motives were not pure.
While I thought she was genuinely reaching out to me to get to know me better, she was baiting me to be a part of her MLM (multi-level marketing) platform. If you know anything about me, you know I HATE MLM for many reasons but mainly for the way in which she reached out to me. Most MLM people pretend to be really interested in you and then they hit you with a business pitch. How about you just come out and tell me what you want from the gate?
What started out as an exchange that felt good to me all of a sudden left a bad taste in my mouth. I went back and forth in my head about whether I should confront her or keep my feelings to myself and in the end decided to confront her.
One day I sent her a message asking if I can share my heart with her to which she said yes, of course. After sharing my heart, she was filled with remorse and assured me it was not her intention to bait me. She then asked my forgiveness.
So, what is forgiveness? Many of us think we know what it is when in actuality we don’t. In Christian circles, we’re taught to forgive everything. “You have to forgive,” which we do is shoved down our throats without any mention of repentance by the wrongdoer. Repentance is the key to true forgiveness.
Luke 17:3-4 says: If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. “I repent” must be said by the wrongdoer and then there’s forgiveness.
Repent means to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.
Instead of ignoring my feelings, I went to her and rebuked her. Rebuke means to express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.
I was angry once I found out the real reason she approached me and I let her know without mincing my words. She, in turn, had a chance to repent and because of that, I was able to offer sincere forgiveness.
When I shared my heart with her, she was full of regret and remorse. I could feel her heart through our email exchange and that made it easy to extend genuine forgiveness, not a lame “I forgive” you as we are so used to doing in Christian circles while we remain offended by the offender. What happened between her and me is small compared to what many of us need to forgive.
I immediately turned to the word and found a group of verses that speak about forgiveness in Matthew 18:15-20.
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
The words, “You have won your brother” suggests to me that you have reconciled and the relationship is restored.
In verse 15, we are instructed to go and tell our brother (sisters are included) his fault. That’s exactly what I did when I went to my sister. The point of doing so was to give her a chance to take full responsibility and repent. Some people aren’t aware they have offended us and that is why going and telling is so important instead of walking around hurt and offended. Once we do that, the next and final step is forgiveness.
Repentance is so important because it shows me a heart that is turned around. It gives me some assurance that there won’t be a repeat of that offense. Depending on the offense, it is impossible not to forgive when someone is remorseful and takes steps to show they are truly sorry.
Without repentance, what we are left with is pretense or what I call fake forgiveness. We like to believe time heals all wounds but it doesn’t. What heals all wounds is true forgiveness that starts with repentance. There is no chance for reconciliation without repentance and there is no real forgiveness without repentance.
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