Thursday, March 05, 2009


What is forgiveness? We often speak about forgiving others, and about being forgiven. But what does it actually mean for us to forgive someone who has sinned against us?

I'm currently reading an excellent pastoral book from Pastor Mark Driscoll, called Death by Love. The book takes the form of letters (pastoral epistles, if you will) to members of his congregation outlining various aspects of the cross and how it applies to their specific situations and issues.

I'll post a full review when I've finished the book, but right now, here's the quote on forgiveness, written to a victim of child abuse, and other horrendous sins:

Because so many sins of both omission and commission have been committed against you, Satan will also seek to gain ground in your life through bitterness (Eph 4:17-32). The sad truth is that there is virtually no way that everyone who has ever sinned against you will come forward to repent and ask your forgiveness. If you wait for the people who have sinned against you to repent before you can forgive them, you will be prone to bitterness, which Hebrews 12:15 describes as a root that will feed other demonic weeds in your life.

Therefore, as God the Holy Spirit brings to mind the people who have sinned against you, you must forgive them. This does not mean minimising or accepting what they have done, but rather entrusting them to God for his justice through Jesus' suffering on the cross or their deserved torment in hell. Your part in forgiveness is giving up your just right to hurt them for the hurt they did to you. God may also ask you to confront some of them in order to give them an opportunity to repent, and if they do not, you must trust Jesus to judge and sentence them justly on the day of final judgement.

When thinking about forgiveness, we don't often think about it in this way. Any thoughts?


  1. I believe that forgiveness is a powerful example of the perfect love that God has for everybody. I have to say that I agree with you when you say that you must forgive all those who have sinned against you, despite how difficult it may be. In my opinion nothing can be more difficult to forgive, than having to forgive someone who has murdered your wife and son- which is a forgiveness journey that Kent Whitaker
    had to face- he wrote a book on his story titled, "Murder by Family" - a truly inspirational story on forgiveness. Reading his story makes it easier for me to forgive others!

    06 March, 2009 05:15

  2. I think everyday forgiveness of minor transgressions is a highly pragmatic everyday life-tactic: a way to move on and say "I'm not suffering any more".

    To forgive someone who has murdered your family. I can't even begin to imagine what that's like. Sounds like a good book.