FORGIVENESS IS NOT TOLERATION
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:11
Forgiveness is not toleration of the offense. As helpful as it was to learn what forgiveness was, I found it even more helpful to learn what it was not. There are many myths surrounding the topic. One of them is that if I choose to forgive, I’m communicating that what was done to me was no big deal. Perhaps I fear it will convey that I’m tolerating it by extending forgiveness. That is simply not true.
A son or daughter of God is like their Father. He feels strongly about sin and so do we. He took it so seriously that it required the life of His Son to make us holy again. I must take sin and the sacrifice of God’s Son so seriously that I also do something outrageous--I choose to forgive the worst offenders because I’ve been forgiven.
Forgiveness doesn’t reduce the gravity of sin. It is possible to forgive and still impose boundaries. I can forgive and still initiate consequences. Forgiveness does not even exclude involving the law and civil authorities. Restraining orders, arrests for assault, these are often necessary but they are not the antithesis of forgiveness.
God forgave King David and gave him a fresh page on the canvas of his life by bringing forth the birth of Solomon, yet included in his future were also the consequences of his sin. It started with the death of the child he and Bathsheba conceived outside of marriage.
Joseph forgave his brothers but he didn’t excuse their sin. He still set up a test for them to prove their heart had changed. He still called a spade a spade by informing them of this: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20 In forgiving, he did not tell them their sin was okay and not to worry about it because God had worked everything out.
I am called to forgive because that’s what my Father did for me. I forgive small things and I forgive horrific things. I am not exempt from any offense because of its severity. God rules over large and small matters and I can trust him to recognize what is so very egregious and to deal with it on my behalf.
Help me finally get it. You know the insidiousness of sin better than I do. You’ve got it all covered. Amen