The Cost of Re-Gifting

FORGIVERe-Gifting God’s forgiveness is a charge every one of us has been given. We all know God requires that we forgive others, just as He has forgiven us in Jesus.

So, why do we find it so difficult to re-gift His forgiveness?

Here are a few reasons:

No one deserves forgiveness.

We don’t owe our offenders forgiveness. We are not indebted to them; they are indebted to us. It’s counterintuitive to forgive because forgiveness is always unmerited, always presented as a free gift, always offered as an act of sheer grace.

Forgiveness costs us something.

Because an offense against us creates a debt, when we forgive the debt, we have to absorb the cost of that debt ourselves. Forgiveness is a free gift we offer to our offender, but that gift is not free to us. It costs us something.*

Forgiveness doesn’t taste good.

In a limited view, justice isn’t being served when we forgive a debt. So, the cup of forgiveness can have a bitter taste and can be hard to swallow. But drinking this cup brings health and healing to our souls. Withholding forgiveness, on the other hand, is a deadly poison that tastes delicious and goes down with a velvety smoothness.

Forgiveness is a supernatural act.

Forgiveness is not humanly possible. It’s an expression of the heart of God. When we agree to forgive, we enter into a divine act. We cooperate with God as He expresses His heart of mercy to our debtors. So, we must always depend on Him as we forgive.

I am not explaining forgiveness right now. I’m grappling with a mystery. When we step out to offer the gift of forgiveness, relying on the enabling power of His Spirit, we enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, and we experience the power of His resurrection.

As hard as re-gifting God’s forgiveness might seem to us, we don’t want to miss out on the extraordinary opportunity to get in on His gift giving. With that in mind, next time, I’ll talk about how we can avoid the enemy’s tricks that can keep us from offering our debtors the gift of our forgiveness.

*[I first thought of forgiveness as “costly suffering” after reading Tim Keller’s explanation in The Reason for God, pp.187-193]

8 thoughts on “The Cost of Re-Gifting

  1. One of the other reasons that forgiveness is hard is that we me have to offer it from a position of weakness, or vulnerability.

    It’s easy to be the one who stands in judgement, and offer forgiveness as part of a “punishment package” – oh, yes. along with imposing the death penalty…I forgive you.

    But the example we have from Jesus goes beyond this. He said, on the Cross, “Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

    One could say that, being God, He could have taken matters into His own hands in rather spectacular fashion…but I think that He made a point by not so doing.

    He showed us the place from which we have to give this gift. The toughest place of all.

    • No, we don’t like assuming a position of “weakness or vulnerability.” Taking up the sword of judgment is more appealing to us.
      The “punishment package” is a trap. To pretend forgiveness while handing down a sentence for the crime is dangerous self deception.
      Yes, Jesus shows the way. And if we are to forgive, we must allow Him to lead the way.
      Thank you for exploring further our difficulties with forgiveness and for pointing us to the heart of God expressed in the person of the forgiving Christ.

  2. Dave, what a beautiful post. I once heard forgiveness defined as, “Giving up the right to get even.” When we choose to forgive, we are erasing that debt from our ledger. Willingly. I’ve also found forgiveness is a process. Each time the hurt from the offense jabs me with a reminder, I have to remember I chose to forgive the person who inflicted it. It’s not often easy, it’s a discipline. But it’s one that keeps my heart light, rather than weighed down with bitterness.

    • I appreciate your description of forgiveness as a willing surrender of our right to get even.
      And I think what you have shared about what you’ve found–namely, that forgiveness is a process–is enormously helpful. it’s a process. And it’s not an easy, painless process. There are “jabs” of pain that we can feel from the offense during the process of forgiving that offense. We need to hear that and need to know that because the enemy wants to create confusion and feelings of guilt during the process. He does not want us to be light and free, but entangled and weighed down. Thanks, Jeanne for your insights.

  3. “When we agree to forgive, we enter into a divine act.”
    You got my attention with that sentence.
    Keep talking, Dave. I’m listening.

  4. I read years ago that if we didn’t make others’ behavior about us, we wouldn’t have any reason to forgive because we wouldn’t have resentments in the first place. t liked that a lot, but since not taking things personally is not my strong suit, I like your post a lot also. It’s a reminder to let go so I can move on. As always, thanks for more to practice.

    • Offenses do profoundly affect us and deeply involve us, but, as you say, they are not ultimately “about” us. You remind me, Kim, that in order for me to live with understanding I must always see beyond the limits of myself and have a more expansive view of reality. As usual, you’ve given me more to think about. Thanks for your comments, Kim!

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