Why Is Forgiveness So Hard?

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God’s Word makes it very clear that we are called to forgive. In a broken world, though, life circumstances can make forgiveness feel much more complicated. Does forgiving someone mean that you have to trust them again? Do broken relationships always need to be restored? This week, John Bailey and Mark Renfroe talk through these nuanced questions and talk about the process of forgiveness when forgiveness feels impossible.

Key Points from the Podcast

  • For the Christian, forgiveness is not an option. We are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven by God in Christ Jesus.

  • It is important to process through offenses rather than just sweeping them under the rug, so that you can properly forgive those who have hurt you.

  • Forgiveness does not mean that every relationship will be restored, but you must release people from any offense you hold against them.

  • Your ability to forgive others is deeply rooted in your ability to understand what God has done for you in forgiving your sins.

  • Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.

  • It might be tempting to withhold forgiveness when you compare your sin to someone else’s, but our standard of comparison is God’s perfection, not our own self-righteousness.

  • Part of forgiveness is recognizing and acknowledging that God, not you, is the Righteous Judge.

  • Pain is directly proportionate to intimacy. The closer you are to someone, the deeper you feel betrayal, and the harder it may be to forgive them.

  • A sign of Christian maturity is the ability to acknowledge that you have hurt others in the same way you have been hurt.

  • We often want to receive grace and forgiveness, but we don’t always want to offer them to others.

  • If you hold onto unforgiveness it will follow you into all your relationships, and little things will cause you to blow up on someone.

  • You will have to live with the offenses you don’t confront. While we don’t need to address every issue, you do need to ask yourself if you can live with not confronting it.

  • A good goal is to have thick skin and a soft heart, but many today have thin skin and a hard heart.

  • Forgiveness starts with a decision to forgive because God commands us to and because it is good for us. It is followed by action, whether that involves going to the person, acknowledging your part, or releasing them from the offense.

  • Stephen is a great example of offering forgiveness to those who are hurting you. We see in Paul’s testimony the great impact it had on him as one who was there and approved of the stoning.

  • We’re not only to forgive others, but also ourselves. This can be even harder for some.

  • Forgiveness is critical to your spiritual growth because unforgiveness will hinder you.

Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

Matthew 5:23–24, 6:14–15, 18:21–22; Luke 6:37; Matthew 5:23–24; Romans 3:23, 12:18; Isaiah 64:6; Acts 7:54–60, 22:19–20;

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

About John Bailey

Pastor John Bailey serves as the Chief Operating Officer at World Challenge. John came to know Christ in jail after some difficult struggles as a young man, and God has done a powerful work of transformation since! Spending 13 years in Next Gen ministry, he excelled in discipleship and helping young leaders discover giftings to serve God. John was called next to serve as a missionary and pastor in Western Europe. John and his family then returned to plant the Springs Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, the church is a thriving body of believers excelling in outreach and missions. John has now brought his giftings and vision to World Challenge, accelerating the spread of the gospel in America and around the World.

About Mark Renfroe

Mark married his college sweetheart, Amy, with whom he has four adult children—one girl and three boys. The Renfroes have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. They served in the Arab community of San Francisco for four years before becoming foreign missionaries in 1995. Mark was asked to serve as the Area Director for Assemblies of God World Missions in 2007. As part of his role, he led missionaries and interfaced with national church leaders in the 18 countries of the Arab World. In 2017, Mark created Reaching Africa’s Muslims, an initiative to mobilize, equip, and deploy indigenous African missionaries to reach Muslims on the continent. Mark has graduate degrees in Intercultural Studies and Executive Leadership. He currently serves as the Chief Missions Officer for World Challenge in Colorado Springs.