To forgive, or not to forgive?

That is the question! Should I forgive everyone for everything regardless of anything? or are there times when the right thing is to withhold forgiveness, at least until the person meets some condition to be forgiven?

:shrug:

I don’t think it is humanly possible to forgive everyone for everything. It is possible however, to pray for those who offend us.

Forgiving is an act of the will, not a feeling. So, yes, we are called to forgive everyone for anything. That means that we do not will them any harm regardless of the harm they caused us or others. We decide that we will try our best to let it go and not feel bad feelings toward that person, and that decision in itself–if honest–is enough for true forgiveness. Even though we’ve decided that we will try our best to let go of our bad feelings, those feelings still may stay around. But that’s okay, because we cannot control our feelings—only our will.

I don’t think that there is a situation in which we have no need to forgive, or should not forgive. However, that does not mean we should let a person continue to act a certain way toward us or others, if it is harmful. We can forgive but remove ourselves from a person if he is harmful or damaging to our peace and well-being.

I’m pretty sure you’re expected to forgive without condition. Besides, it’s not like harboring a grudge can really benefit you in any way at all. Really, forgiveness is more for you than it is for your offender. With the exception of potential friendships, most offenders don’t really care if the person they did something to forgives them or not. It’s not going to make them sorry. And what do you gain from it? At worst, it makes you angry enough to break the law in some way, in which case you ultimately lose. At best, it wastes your time because holding a grudge and getting angry is rather pointless.

This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to like/trust/be friends with this person. But you should forgive no matter what. It is human nature to hold a grudge and want revenge, but almost every sin in the book can be argued to stem from human nature, we’re supposed to control ourselves.

If you’re looking for Biblical evidence of this, look at Jesus’s example. The Romans tortured him and nailed Him to a cross. Yet He still forgave and prayed for them.

I am so glad we have reopened this thread - thank you Spockrates. I think it is highly logical that one forgives as part of Christian living - even if for nothing else but a psychological standpoint. But then if we delve deeper there are several places we as Christians are instructed against holding anger against our fellow man.

How can we not hold anger and not forgive at the same time?

After all lets start with Matthew 5:21-22 NAB: “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, 'You Shalt Not Kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgement. But I say to you whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.”

It’s decision is not on us to forgive… :slight_smile:

This is a past discussion that has been resurrected. But one of the things that came out of this and the reason it got closed is that we need to keep sacramental absolution separate from the Christian responsibility and duty to forgive.

Now if what you are saying is that we may forgive something and God may not - that may be true in His wisdom - but that is not up for us to decide as we only put our own souls in jeopardy by not forgiving.

Forgiveness for a person who has offended us is NOT conditional.
Even if that person continues to offend you and does not want to be forgiven you are required to forgive them unconditionally.
If you do not forgive them God will not forgive you.

“…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

How do you want God to forgive you? That is the way we are called to forgive others. It is not easy. It is not pleasant. It is not what the world would want us to do (“don’t get mad, get even”).

It is what Jesus calls us to do.

Thanks for the thought, Cor! What you say sounds sound to me, but something Jesus said makes me wonder.

“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

(Matthew 5:15)

If it is impossible to forgive everyone, then is it impossible for the Father to forgive anyone?

:shrug:

Thank you for the reply, Kristleful! I think it is wise to answer my question by first trying to define forgiveness. After all, how can I know how to forgive if I misunderstand what forgiving is?

:thumbsup:

I like your definition of forgiving, and I think that all forgiveness must have, as an attribute, a ceasing to seethe with anger, but I wonder if that is all that forgiveness is. I mean, consider the forgiveness of which we are reminded this Easter season: It is a forgiving not merely of God ceasing to be angry, but also pardoning our sins, and even welcoming us into His open arms like the Prodigal Son returned home. Isn’t this also what it means to forgive?

I don’t think that there is a situation in which we have no need to forgive, or should not forgive. However, that does not mean we should let a person continue to act a certain way toward us or others, if it is harmful. We can forgive but remove ourselves from a person if he is harmful or damaging to our peace and well-being.

Fascinating! Are you saying that the one who forgives only some is less moral than the one who forgives all?

Hi KB! I appreciate you advice, and I agree that holding a grudge does me, at least, no good. I often find that when I dwell on the wrong done to me, the result is frequently no good. I usually end up saying or doing something I later regret. Holding a grudge does me no good, indeed!

:thumbsup:

Really, forgiveness is more for you than it is for your offender. With the exception of potential friendships, most offenders don’t really care if the person they did something to forgives them or not. It’s not going to make them sorry. And what do you gain from it? At worst, it makes you angry enough to break the law in some way, in which case you ultimately lose. At best, it wastes your time because holding a grudge and getting angry is rather pointless.

This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to like/trust/be friends with this person. But you should forgive no matter what. It is human nature to hold a grudge and want revenge, but almost every sin in the book can be argued to stem from human nature, we’re supposed to control ourselves.

I’m glad you mentioned friendship, because that brings to mind an example. Let’s say a close friend of yours wrongs you in some harmful way. You tell the betrayer you no longer consider her your friend.

Not wanting to lose your friendship, she pleads with you, “I’m so sorry I hurt you; I’ll never do that again. I don’t want to lose your friendship. Please forgive me.”

“I have forgiven you,” you reply. “I’m not holding a grudge; but you’ll never again be a friend of mine!”

Would she have good cause to question the sincerity of your forgiveness?

If you’re looking for Biblical evidence of this, look at Jesus’s example. The Romans tortured him and nailed Him to a cross. Yet He still forgave and prayed for them.

Yes, He did pray that the Father would forgive them. Please tell me, what was the reason He gave to forgive them?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

(Luke 23:34)

Thanks Joan! Somehow it seemed appropriate to resurrect a discussion thread about forgiveness on the day we remember the one who made it all possible for us to be forgiven!

:slight_smile:

Absolutely, Joan. I positively agree! Still I wonder whether ceasing to seethe with anger is ALL that forgiveness is. I think where we need to begin again to answer this question is by defining forgiveness. Don’t you?

What do you think the word forgive means? Does it mean merely to not feel angry? Is that all that forgiveness is, or are there more complete, more noble, more beautiful, more perfect, more loving ways to forgive?

:shrug:

True. I cannot forgive someone for a wrong done to God, so I’m not asking about that. I can, however forgive someone for a wrong done to me. So I’m asking when I should forgive the wrong done to me, and when I should not, or perhaps in what way I should forgive and in what way I should not. What are you thinking, xCx?

:slight_smile:

Yes, Thistle, that is a sobering thought, and it seems to be what our Forgiver conveyed here:

“But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

(Matthew 6:15)

But that brings to mind a apparent paradox: Since God does not forgive those who do not forgive, should you and I forgive those who do not forgive us? In other words, if it is not wrong for God to withhold forgiveness from the unforgiving, then how can it be wrong for you and I to imitate Him by doing the same?

:shrug:

What’s up Doc?

:smiley:

Glad you joined the conversation! What you said makes sense to me. We should forgive others the way God forgives us (just as Jesus said) for Saint Paul the Apostle also tells us:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

(Ephesians 5:1-2)

Since we should do our best to imitate God, I suppose it would be best to consider how He forgives, that we might imitate Him. Please let me ask you this, Doc: Does God forgive everyone, or are there some He judges, instead of pardoning or overlooking their sins?

@Chris- I think we can only forgive wrongs done to us. We have to forgive all wrongs done to us.

@Spockrates- What does forgiveness mean to me- it means not a lack of anger but maybe a presence of love in spite of injury

I go to St Francis’s definition of True Love from the 9th Admonition:

  1. Of Love.

The Lord says in the Gospel, “Love your enemies,” etc. 3 He truly loves his enemy who does not grieve because of the wrong done to himself, but who is afflicted for love of God because of the sin on his [brother’s] soul and who shows his love by his works.

@The other poster who asked if it was possible to forgive everyone- God is perfect we are not. I think God recoginizes that. However, we also have the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we can go to for help if we realize that we are acting on our anger. We have the Sacrament of the Eucharist which can help if our anger is not at a point where it is a mortal sin. So yes God knows we will be imperfect but He in His wisdom has given us ways to to be helpedby Him if we accept them so that He can perfectly forgive us.

I forgive because for me is better to forgive. When I forgive I can go forward. I am not angry then.

Do we need to forgive, even when the offender does not ask for forgiveness and does not think what they did was wrong? If we do need to forgive in that situation, do we just tell God that we forgive that person?

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