Barriers to forgiveness

By Dave Henning / March 6, 2016

As June Hunt continues Chapter 5 of How to Forgive, she lists some of the most common barriers to forgiveness.  Of the twelve barriers June lists, three caught my attention:

  • believing that bitterness is a required response to betrayal– “God knows my feelings are normal”
  • requiring an apology or show of repentance– “He shouldn’t be forgiven because he’s not really sorry”
  • feeling a sense of power by hanging on to unforgiveness– “He needs to see how wrong he is”

Ms. Hunt states that these stones of animosity can block forgiveness and burden us down.  June adds that she has heard two additional rationales so often they warrant further explanation.  The firs rationale is discussed today.

1.  “It wouldn’t be fair.”  The issue of justice is at the heart of this statement.  It seems that our need for justice is so strong and natural, while the idea of forgiveness is so difficult and unnatural.  June believes there are three reasons for this:

a.  God has instilled within every heart a sense of right and wrong.  Because everyone has a God-given conscience, we feel a need for justice when someone mistreats us.

b.  Based on the law, forgiveness seems inappropriate.  While a black-and-white , law-and-order system seems controllable  and quantifiable, the very essence of Christianity is grace.  June adds that “individually we are to extend mercy.  We are to leave individual justice to God.”

c.  We feel outraged when justice is denied.  Everyone cries for justice- except the guilty person waiting to receive justice(emphasis author’s).  Ms. Hunt finds it ironic that we plead for justice when we have been wronged, yet plea for mercy when we’ve done wrong.  She states this double standard may be human nature, but it sabotages a forgiving spirit.

Today’s question: What stones of animosity have been barriers to forgiveness for you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation, “Like little children”

About the author

Dave Henning

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