Tag Archive: forgive

I am continuing this series on looking backwards to help yourself move forwards well. This post on Regret should probably go hand in hand with the previous one on Forgiveness.

‘If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.’ [ Mercedes Lackey]


And this really is the bottom line. We cannot go back to the past and live things differently. We can’t change the past. And so living with regret of decisions made, actions done, things said becomes completely unhelpful because there is nothing we can do to alter those things. However, we do have the power to affect how we live forwards and so it can be helpful to look back at things that didn’t go so well, not to wallow in self-pity and regret or beat ourselves down or anything like that [again, doesn’t really achieve anything worthwhile] BUT so that where possible we can put things right or else make time to learn from what has happened and choose to live differently from here on out.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” [ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland]

Carroll has a great point there. Another great hope linked to looking backwards is that you have changed as a person. Hopefully you have grown and matured [not become old, please!] and learnt more about love and grace and forgiveness and so the ‘you’ who made those bad decisions and maybe hurt people or messed up badly, is also someone who you have, to some extent left behind as you have moved on.

Transform any regrets you may have from the past into learning opportunities for the future. Insofar as you have the ability to mend broken relationships or make right for things you got wrong and people you hurt, do so [remembering that if they choose not to forgive, that is okay, but make sure they hear and see that you are really repentant] and then leave them behind and move forwards.

‘Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.’ [C. S. Lewis]

Lewis nails it. Start believing that there are better times ahead and work towards those. Embrace the present as you live towards creating a successful future, for you and all those around you.

But if you are going to choose to regret something, this would be a good one:

‘Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.’ [David Grayson]

 And by ‘choose to regret’ i mean ‘live so you don’t have to’ – is there someone you need to tell you love or appreciate them today? Don’t wait too late or this too will be tossed upon the regret pile. Don’t wait til someone’s funeral to say all the nicest things about them they never got to hear.

So live forwards well, by learning from, but refusing to carry, any regrets from the past…

[For the next part on Re-establishing contact, click here]

‘We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.’ [ Rick Warren]

Continuing this series on looking backwards to move forwards well, this has to be one of the hugest aspects of how it can be beneficial for you. Getting this one right can transform your life and relationships – it won’t necessarily be the easiest of journeys, but it will be completely worth it.

‘Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.’ [Mother Teresa]

Sometimes people can be mean. They can be jerks. Sometimes we probably deserve it. Other times it might come as a complete blind side and have nothing to do with us. But at some point in life, especially if you are living a Jesus-following life [or trying to], someone is going to hurt you, a lot, and you need to figure out how best you can and should respond.

Stephan Pastis, through his amazing comic strip, Pearls before Swine, captures it this way:


Which is Truth number one, which I have also heard put this way – ‘Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping that the other person will die.’

And it’s true. There can even be times when someone has done something to hurt you and so you nurse a grudge against them and they don’t even know they have done it. So they are living life completely unaware that they even hurt you in any way and you are starting to fester with anger and bitterness and maybe even thoughts of revenge. It is so healthy to approach the person directly and hopefully be able to resolve it well, but at the very least be able to get to the point of forgiveness and then move on.

Jesus deals with it in the prayer He teaches His disciples by introducing the phrase, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.’ The link there is very intentional and implies that you can’t have one without the other. But, knowing how slow we are, He almost sneaks this one in right at the end of the prayer, just to make sure we got it: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” [Matthew 6.14-15]

He echoes it again big time in the parable of the unmerciful servant, found in Matthew 18. From a place of realisation of all that you have been forgiven by God, the natural reaction should by you extending forgiveness, mercy and grace to those around you. But it is also something He commands us to do with the proviso that if we are unable to, then we surely will not receive forgiveness from God.

Which brings us to a second important Truth:

true story

If we truly love God and our neighbor [another great command Jesus demonstrated so well in His life, and also in His death as He gasped out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” while literally dying on the cross for those who had put Him there [Luke 23.34], then forgiving them should be a natural desire for their sake, but the reality is that forgiving someone else frees us from bitterness, deep anger and hatred which threatens to eat us up. I strongly believe that if you live with any measure of unforgiveness in your life, that it will affect every single other relationship you are in. You cannot experience or offer true Love unless you are willing to come to a place of forgiveness towards those who have wronged you. [with the knowledge that forgiving them doesn’t mean what they did was not wrong or hurtful to you].

Which brings us to this absolute Truth:

so much of Truth

If you have been deeply hurt by someone then everything in you may be wanting to revolt against that statement. But it is true. People can encourage towards anger. People can provide context for offence.

But each one of us decides whether we take it on or not. And remember the word in the Bible was not about anger being wrong, but rather it says, ‘in your anger do not sin,’ [Ephesians 4.26] which feels a whole lot more achievable.


A helpful Truth is to realise that Forgiveness is not a feeling. Much like Patience and sometimes Love, you don’t always feel like forgiving. Especially if what the person did to you was really hectic and just messed up [like some form of abuse or physical assault]. It is largely the decision to not allow what was done to you to affect your daily life and relationships with others. The more painful the thing done to you, the more often you have to make the choice. So maybe at the beginning you have to decide every hour to forgive that person. After a while hopefully it becomes a few times a day. And then eventually it once a day and then hopefully once or twice a week. “Today I choose not to hold this thing against them, or to let it affect me.” And trusting that God is big enough to help you, maybe not forget the thing completely, but to not remember it with anger and bitterness and the need for revenge. What amazes me about the Love of God is not that He had this kind of spiritual amnesia when it comes to my sin, but that knowing the sin I have been involved in, He chooses to absolutely not hold it against me and treats me as if I have never done any of that stuff. This is what we hope for.

On the plus side, there is the assurance that God will not let the wrong go unpunished. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” [Romans 12.20]

I know, I know, I too have wanted to suggest that perhaps that wasn’t necessarily meant as a metaphor in ‘this particular case’ but sadly the Greek holds up. But God has this. Don’t waste time, energy or health and don’t damage your other relationships in life by holding on to something that, like with pig at the top, may not even be affecting the other person even in the slightest. Extend forgiveness. Choose life to the full.

‘You couldn’t erase the past. You couldn’t even change it. But sometimes life offered you the opportunity to put it right.’
[Ann Brashares]


Don’t waste this opportunity to free yourself from unforgiveness which affects every other relationship you have, even if you don’t realise it. And know that as hard or impossible-seeming as it might appear, that God promises you the resources and strength to be able to go through with it.

Some other posts on Forgiveness related matters include:

Ubuntu-botha [Rescuing the perpetrator]

Forgive without punishing

Amazing Grace, how costly so

How to condemn evil, while loving evil people

[To continue on to the next post looking at Regret, click here]

Colossians 3 verse 13 reads, ‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’

i am not convinced that ‘forgive and forget’ is a biblical concept altho many people quote it as if it is… for me the idea that God has forgiven my sin and then developed some kind of universal amnesia is a lot less exciting than the picture of a God who although He remembers and knows the various ways i have let Him down and hurt other people [both by what i have done and also by that which i have failed to do] chooses to not hold that against me and loves and treats me as if those things never happened.

the next time i mess up, he doesn’t bring out the list and remind me that this is simply one more time that i have failed Him.

the enemy does. through guilt and the wagging finger of ‘you’re no good! this is who you are! the sin defines you!’ he will point and prod and constantly bring up failures from the past to try and let this be the one that keeps you down.

and i do. one of the biggest ways in which we punish when we ‘forgive’ is to bring up all the crud from the past and wave it in the person’s face who has just wronged us as if to say with the enemy, ‘this is who you are. i knew you’d mess up again. you just can’t help it can you?’ which, when you take time to think about it is truly horrible. to be honest, a lot of it feels like self-protection – a wrong has been committed and if i can’t prove how and why this is your fault then i am going to have to take responsibility that it might just be mine.

a while back i looked at how my yes can sound very much like a no [which is about as helpful as receiving a no and possibly even worse] and i think this statement of ‘Forgive without punishing’ aligns itself closely alongside that idea. if i forgive you, but you feel like crap as a result of it, then i may need to relook at whether i have forgiven you at all.

i am reminded of Jesus and the woman caught in sin in John 8.1-11 which ends:

‘Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”’

This story has both the lack of condemnation as well as the call to live a better life. She doesn’t leave feeling like her sin was ok, but she also doesn’t leave feeling condemned at all and in the context of the whole story it is the act of Jesus’ compassion that you feel will stick with her more than any focus on the sin.

So, forgive and forget? Not so sure. But forgive and do not continue to hold it against. Forgive and in the moment of forgiveness let them walk away with the understanding of Love and Grace and Mercy and not condemnation or guilt. Forgive and choose to seek positive relationship with. Forgive and remember to examine your heart and actions for the areas where you might need to be forgiven.

That original verse comes in the middle of two others which i feel fit so well together so let us end with that, and as i look to forgive without punishing, may i seek to always remember what it looks like when God forgives me, and may my forgiveness always be bound together in Love:

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ [Colossians 3.12-14]

to continue to the promise without forgetting way, go here.

i saw this as a typical Facebook post, like, share piece and so can not claim that it is original, but also do not know what the original source is, so please be gentle plagurism police…

and while i am not a huge fan of “the 7 keys to financial success” or “118 ways to a better waistline”, this list feels like a good thing to give consideration to not as THE ONLY 10 WAYS TO LOVE or the TEN WAYS TO ACHIEVE LOVE PERFECTION or anything silly and conclusive like that, but more a sense of, ‘Hey, here are some good ways to improve the way that you love people’ – this is not exclusively how to love your husband/wife better, but i imagine they apply on an even deeper level then.

so walk with me through these ten not-all-so-easy suggestions of ways in which you can do better at doing one of the most important things of life… and i would LOVE to hear your thoughts and stories and examples as we work our way through these:

1. Listen without interrupting.
2. Speak without accusing.
3. Give without sparing.
4. Answer without arguing.
5. Share without pretending.
6. Enjoy without complaint.
7. Trust without wavering.
8. Forgive without punishing.
9. Promise without forgetting.
10. Pray without ceasing.

i will be dealing with each one specifically and in time each point above will be the link to it’s own post.

let the commentary begin…

i shoveled snow this morning for the first time and it was quite enjoyable and i imagine i could never shovel snow again and be quite happy – it was a fleeting novelty for sure.

altho i know that if it snows tomorrow i will have to shovel snow again. it will not be enuff that i shoveled it today.

i cannot live off the memory of yesterday’s shoveled snow.

the same is true with the crap in our lives – broken relationships, wounds, offences, struggles with temptation, sin…

it is not enough that i dealt with it yesterday, that i overcame it, that i cleaned it up…

the moment there is a new relationship needing work, a new wound that i have caused or received, an offence i’ve taken from someone [because offence is never given, it’s taken], a new temptation that is strongly calling, a new moment of mess-up or getting it wrong… i have to grab my proverbial shovel and deal, repent, ask for forgiveness, fight against it, seek healing and restoration and so on.

i cannot live off the memory of yesterday’s dealing with stuff – when it arrives freshly, i need to get shoveling.

dealing with something the first time is often easy, or easier.

asking someone for forgiveness, while not fun is generally doable, but when you mess up again and have to crawl back and ask for forgiveness FOR THE SAME THING, wow, man, give me snow any day… so it becomes easier to let it build up.

in philly, if you leave the snow unshoveled for too long, you get a fine and have to shovel it anyway.
in life, if you leave stuff undealt with for too long, you suffer for it and will undoubtably have to deal with it at some stage anyway… and by then it will have probaly built up a lot and require so much more work and effort.

you got any snow that needs shoveling?

let’s face it – Christians are not among the most loved and respected people when it comes to those outside of the church and i have often wondered why this is and so i started thinking about some of the core basics of this religion and suddenly it makes a lot of sense. when you look at what Christians intrinsically fundamentally believe (i’m not talking how some of them act or those who claim to be Christians but are living contrary to what being a Christian is meant to be but those who are actively living out what the bible teaches) then it becomes pretty obvious why we are despised and hated and regarded with suspicion

so let me take a couple of notes – purely by looking at the basics of what Christianity is about or meant to be about – to show why it is valid to hate Christianity…

part II – we forgive

‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’ [Matthew 6.13-14]

wow – how heinous are we? people who forgive people who hurt or disappoint them. and if you read this you can see that God’s forgiveness is conditional on us forgiving other people. not as an option. not as a ‘if i feel like it.’ not even ‘if you’re a good Christian you’ll do this’

it’s a command. it is a fundamental entrance exam requirement. if you follow Jesus Christ and His teachings and want to be called a Christian then you will forgive everyone

Jesus demonstrated this perfectly as He was hanging on the cross, dying one of the cruellest deaths known to mankind:

‘When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.33-34]

in fact when peter, one of Jesus’ followers and closest friends, comes to Jesus and asks Him how many times he should forgive someone, Jesus replies, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” [Matthew 18.22]

this doesn’t mean we keep count and when we get to time 78 we can withhold forgiveness. it means that we keep doing it without record. the kingdom of God calls for crazy revolutionary love demonstrated in forgiveness demonstrated by Jesus on the cross

so yes, people who are commanded to forgive people around them, regardless of whether they deserve it or not – no wonder people hate us!

for another ‘reason to hate Christianity’ click here…

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