I Should Forgive, But...2nd Edition: Finding Release from the Bondage of Anger and Bitterness by Dr Chuck Lynch

I Should Forgive, But...2nd Edition: Finding Release from the Bondage of Anger and Bitterness by Dr Chuck Lynch

Author:Dr Chuck Lynch [Lynch, Dr Chuck]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-08-03T07:00:00+00:00

Shirley was attempting to numb her losses her way—in immoral relationships. But she thought she had an additional problem—she could not forgive herself.

Chapter 8

“I Can’t Forgive Myself!”

Sadness and shame just radiated from her downcast eyes. Guilt, remorse, and shame from an immoral past had taken its toll. She had three children from three different fathers, and now she was pregnant with a fourth. I asked Shirley if she had ever confessed these moral failures to God and sensed that He had forgiven her. She nodded, but her face still reflected a deep sense of regret and shame. “But,” she gradually disclosed, “that’s not the issue. I … I guess I can’t forgive myself.”

“Please don’t waste your time trying,” I said gently. Startled, she blinked, and looked up with puzzled disbelief.

Self-forgiveness can be one of the most confusing aspects of the issue of forgiveness. In reality, those who feel the need to “forgive themselves” make forgiveness harder than it really is. Because of this confusion between self-forgiveness and God’s forgiveness, it is difficult, and for some impossible, to gain the heartfelt release that comes from experiencing genuine forgiveness from God.

Both theologians and therapists have grappled with the necessity, duty, or appropriateness of self-forgiveness. It is not taught, recommended, or illustrated in Scripture. That in itself does not make it wrong. Surprisingly, neither is the procedure of “asking forgiveness” found in Scripture. True, Jesus declared that, if a brother has something against us, we should stop, leave, and first be reconciled to our brother (Matt. 5:23–24). Here, however, as in other places, He focuses on the end (reconciliation), and not the procedure (asking for forgiveness). I personally believe asking for forgiveness is a legitimate discipline, even though it is not specifically taught or illustrated in Scripture.

One could say, “Did not the deeply indebted slave ask the king to forgive his overwhelming debt?” The king did forgive his debt! This was part of an illustration of forgiveness to Peter, who inquired how many times he was to forgive (Matt. 18:21–35). Yet a closer examination of the passage reveals that, yes, the slave humbled himself, pleaded for patience, and promised full payment, but he did not ask that the debt be forgiven. Restitution or repayment is not forgiveness, although both are biblical practices.

The fine points of theological faith and practice were not at the root of Shirley’s need. The issues that were confusing her led her to a perceived need to forgive herself. I have seen this many times. However, after clarifying the issues biblically for many people, the need to forgive themselves becomes a moot issue.



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