The “non-word” that is so important!
If you have ever tried to look up the word “unforgiveness” in a dictionary, you probably discovered that it cannot be found and is not even considered an English word! Apparently this well-used “non-word” emanated from religious teachings. In fact “forgiveness” or “forgive” occur over 100 times in the Bible, and Jesus considered forgiveness as being an indisputable part of the Christian faith: Matthew 6:14-15 says “Yes, if you forgive others for the things they do wrong, then your Father in heaven will also forgive you for the things you do wrong. But if you don’t forgive the wrongs of others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrong things you do.” (ICB)
Unforgiveness is NOT an option!! Perhaps we can understand this better if we read this verse in the Amplified Bible: “For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.“
But that being said, forgiveness is certainly not easy! We have all been hurt or “stabbed in the back” – even by friends or fellow churchgoers! We have all heard of heinous acts done to people that would be almost impossible to forgive. What does God expect us to do?
Thankfully He sent us Jesus who actually also suffered such things and so truly understands. His prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing…” (Luke 23:34) has been a great help to me at such times. As I pray for my offenders and realize that they cannot truly “know” God (because if they did, they would not act in such a way!) I feel some compassion for them. They can’t have experienced God’s amazing love; and that compassion is the first step towards forgiving them – and healing ME!