Will You Forgive me?Submitted by Stephen Winters
When forgiveness is requested, the focus isn't on where it needs to be. When there is an ongoing problem, forgiveness is not the issue. Repairing of the damages and a change of behavior by the offender is what is needed. When there is a genuine change, then forgiveness is often a natural result of the changed behavior. But that often takes time (sometimes months and years). The longer the offense has been ongoing, and the greater the offence, the longer time that is needed for true forgiveness to occur, if it ever happens.
Christ tells us to forive. But does he ever tell us to ask for forgiveness? I can think of no place where christs or the apostles ever told the offending party to ask for forgiveness. Now in the case of Onesimus, Paul did make a request on the behalf of a runaway slave to his master. But the slave did not ask for forgiveness himself. Also, it appears that Onesimus went through a change and ...
You Can't Ask For True Forgiveness.
True forgiveness is something that only comes about over a period of time, if the right factors are involved. It involves a true and lasting change in the life of the offender AND also involves the offended party seeing the changes over a long period of time and realizing that the changes are real.
All to often the offender goes to the person he offended and asks, "Please forgive me." Now Stop! When an offender asks for forgiveness, what is he asking for? If he were to ask for forgiveness without using that word, what would he ask? Perhaps something like this. "Please pretend like I never hurt you. Put it out of your mind and treat me like you did before. Let's put the relationship back to what it was like before." Do you see what I see? This form of asking for forgiveness requires nothing of the offender. The whole thing is put on the back of the offended party. Then, when you add the supposed "Christian duty" to forgive someone, things get even more tricky. The offended party may try to forgive the other person, but finds that her forgiveness often isn't real. It's not real because its not true forgiveness the .... of forgiveness aren't present. The offender has not done anything to genuinely make changes in his life so that he no longer offends people. There has not been sufficient time (often it requires many years) for the offender to get well established in his (presumed) new behaviors and thinking patterns.
In reality, when an someone offends another person the relationship is permanently changed. It can never be what it was before. However a new relationship can be built based upon truth.
You Can't Rush Forgiveness
It takes however long it takes, if it comes at all. The length of time that it takes to offended party to forgive may vary from person to person. The more devasting the offense the longer it may take the offended party to forgive, if she is ever able to forgive.
If you are the offender, put aside all thoughts of desiring to be forgiven. These thoughts are all self-serving, which is what caused you to hurt her/him in the first place. As long as you are wanting to be forgiven you will be putting on a show, that isn't real, to impress the offended person. Instead, your thoughts need to be turned towards living a permanent honorable and virtuous life. Try to repair or fix everything that you have done wrong. In addition, live you life in a way that is honorable, truthful, and noble. Do your best in all situations. Treat everyone honestly, kindly, and compassionately. Remember, you won't do it perfectly. You may often fail. That is of no matter. Every time you fail at living honorably, get back up and try again, and again, and again. NEVER give up. With time you will get better at living virtuously.
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