Heart forgiveness – hard, necessary

By Dave Henning / April 5, 2023

“Heart forgiveness includes identifying with the wrongdoer, inwardly paying the debt, and then willing good to the wrongdoers.  This is hard but necessary to keep you from becoming someone whom — if you could see into the future — you would never want to be.”- Timothy Keller

“We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love each other.  Anyone who does not love remains in death.”- 1 John 3:14 (NIV)

As Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 10 of Forgive, he notes that our English words wrath and wreath come from the same Angol-Saxon root.  Therefore, when you display wrath, that anger twists you out of your normal shape.

In addition, that same Anglo-Saxon root also gives us the word wraith.  A somewhat archaic word, it’s an old word for a ghost – a restless spirit.  According to legend, Pastor Keller states, ghosts remain in the place where something was done to them.  Above all, they find themselves unable to get over the event or stop reliving it.  So, Pastor Keller cautions:

“If you don’t deal with your wrath through forgiveness, wrath can make into a wraith, turning you slowly but surely into a restless spirit, into someone controlled by the past, someone who’s haunted.”

Consequently, Pastor Keller takes a look at the the three parts of internal forgiveness.  First, forgiveness means identifying with the wrongdoer.  Thus, the brother or sister who sins against you is still a brother or sister you are to love.  And you must love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

Yet, the author counsels, it’s easy to lose sight of this crucial truth.  You are the same as your brother, sister, or neighbor.

Finally, Pastor Keller reminds us, real forgiveness always hopes for full restoration of the offender as well as the relationship.  But due to our fallen world, it’s often the case that reconciliation fails to happen.  Even so, we still need to forgive in our hearts.

Today’s question: How hard do you find heart forgiveness?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: Bittersweet, cherished – resentment”

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Dave Henning

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