What Is Forgiveness?

Below is an outline from a recent “Forgiveness” seminar led by Cynthia Townsend. Excepted where noted, the outline flows from her personal study of theology and psychology.

“…and forgive whatever grievances you have with one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you…” – Colossians 3.13

Forgiveness Is Not:

  • Excusing
  • Forgetting
  • Reconciling
  • Condoning
  • Easy

Forgiveness is “letting go of the need for vengeance and relinquishing negative thoughts of bitterness and resentment.” (DiBlasio, 1977).

Reconciliation “involves the re-establishment of a caring relationship in which mutually trustworthy behaviors and thoughts replace previously untrustworthy behaviors and attitudes.” (Sphar & Smith, 2003).

Genesis 37-50; Matthew 6.12; 18.21; Colossians 3.13; Psalm 103.3; Ephesians 4.32; Philemon

Formula To Use When Walking Through The Forgiveness Process (R.E.A.C.H.)

Recall the hurts. 1 Peter 5.7; Psalm 13
– be specific
– journal, talking through with a trustworthy friend, pray aloud
Empathy Matthew 18.21-35
– research indicates that empathy is strongly related to helping people forgive
– empathy is the core technique in forgiveness work
Altrustic gift. Colossians 3.13; Matthew 6.12-15; Psalm 103.3-4,12
– when was a time you received forgiveness that was undeserved?
Commit to forgive. Ephesians 4.32 – it’s a command
– make a choice to forgive.
– formalize the choice through a ceremony of sorts
–> burning a list, writing a letter to offender, saying aloud you forgive that person, etc.
Hold on to forgiveness. Genesis 50.19-21
– repeat offenders
– distinguish between hurt and anger – 4x Joseph “weeps”
– review the letter, walk through the experience, repeat the process