Forgiveness

October 7, 2019

“If we are to be forgiven by God, He requires of us that we also forgive one another. For many of us, this is the hardest part of repentance and confession. But we say it each time we pray the Lord's Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are not offered salvation on any other terms…Forgiveness is truly a “breakthrough” of the Kingdom into this sinful and fallen world.” (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese)

 

“ ‘Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)…Love is the barometer by which Christ will judge our lives. Sin is not only doing wrong. Sin is failure to do right. Sin, on the most basic level, is failure to love. The root cause of all sin is failure to love.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

 

“I often think of relationships that are centered on God like a triangle. Imagine you are point A, the other person is point B, and God is point C. When A moves closer to B, it also moves closer to C. Similarly, when A moves closer to C, it also moves closer to B. The point is, the closer we move toward God, the closer we move toward each other; and the closer we move toward each other, the closer we move toward God. We do this by keeping God as the center of our relationships, which is only accomplished through love and forgiveness. The more we forgive, the more we are able to love and grow closer to each other.” (Chris Shadid)

 

“Unconditional forgiveness means that we don’t require anything of the person we are forgiving. We can’t say, “I’ll forgive him as soon as he pays the money back.” Or “I will forgive her as soon as she apologizes.” Forgiveness is about love—loving others as ourselves. Even if the other person isn’t ready to accept our forgiveness or to forgive us—because oftentimes responsibility lies on both ends—we still should seek it. We can only accept responsibility for ourselves and humbly pray for reconciliation.” (George & Melissa Tsongranis)

 

“In a large sense saying to someone “I love you” or saying to someone “I forgive you” are the same thing.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

 

“Pride, too, has its levels, just like humility. Outward pride is easier to cure, but pride of the mind is almost impossible to eradicate.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

 

“Forgiveness is so terribly hard. On a psychological level, it feels dangerous. The shame engendered by any insult or injury is our experience of vulnerability, and we instinctively react to protect ourselves.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

 

“God’s forgiveness of us and our sins against Him is unconditional and absolute. God does not reject us, objectify us, or bear anger or resentment against us. These are, I think, our projections onto God of our own issues and judgments against ourselves when we sin. God does not punish us. Rather, by alienating ourselves from God, we punish ourselves and ascribe this punishment to Him. We turn in on ourselves in anger and self-hatred, and thus shatter our personhood, cutting ourselves off from His love.” (Hieromonk Jonah)

 

“In fact, we—not God—are the ones who cannot forgive ourselves. We cannot forgive ourselves because of our pride…The only obstacle to the energy of God’s grace, is our pride, our lack of humility.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, St. Paisios the Athonite)

 

“Humble yourself before all; try to be a servant to others; do not accuse, judge or reproach anyone. Make peace with everybody, forgive them, all, or you yourself will not receive the Lord’s forgiveness.” (Abbot Nikon Vorobiev)

 

“ ‘Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’ (Matthew 18:21-22). “Some translations say “seventy-seven times.” Whichever number is used, the point is the same: be ready to forgive over and over again, past counting. This verse does not only apply to forgiveness for seventy times seven different sins. Sometimes, we may have to consciously decide to forgive and let go of an old hurt again and again, “seventy times seven.” (Foundation Study Bible, Matthew 18:22)

 

“Remember that forgiving another person is not primarily an emotion. It is a decision of the will. First you must make a firm decision…Forgiveness is not a feeling; it’s a decision. When you forgive someone, you’re not saying they are right. You’re not even saying they should not be punished by civil authorities. You’re simply saying that you recognize that because you also sin against God and others, you have no right to hold a grudge against anyone.” (Derek Prince, Eric M. Hill)

 

“The worst thing is not forgiving and not loving, and to have enmity in your heart…Among your religious duties is that of loving your fellow men and always forgiving them. If you do this, you will be filled with joy, and with health both of the soul and of the body.” (Elder Sampson the Russian, St. Raphael of Lesvos)

 

“We want to be safe. When we see that another person is sorry for what they have done to us, we begin to think that they will now become safe. We fear forgiving those who show no sorrow or who have not clearly repented of their actions towards us. And we do well to fear it. That is a completely rational, even “hard-wired,” instinctive response. But that tells us what forgiveness actually entails and what it is that Christ asks of us…I think the recurring problem of forgiveness is our effort to find a way around the danger of vulnerability. Is there a way to forgive and remain safe? In short, the answer is, “No.” Forgiveness is a voluntary self-emptying that embraces the vulnerability entailed in that action. Enemies have a way of crucifying you. The disciple is not above his master. If they crucified Him, there is no promise they will not crucify you. Forgiveness is not a safe thing.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

 

“Much of the spiritual life is dedicated to one goal: complete self-mastery, especially in relation to control over one’s reactions. The more mature we are, spiritually, the greater control we have over our reactions. In other words, we have to be watchful over our thoughts, and maintain a spirit of love and compassion. When our thoughts accuse others, and we begin to be upset, then we need to cut off the thoughts and recognize that they are temptations. They are more about me than about the other person. The more we let our thoughts against the other fester, the harder it will be to rid ourselves of them, and resentments will develop. The basic principle of non-reaction, not only in deed, but in thought and feeling, and maintaining a spirit of peace, is the key. With this underlying attitude, it becomes difficult to get us to take offense, and thus, there is seldom a need for forgiveness or reconciliation. This, however, is a mark of very great maturity, and few there are that possess it.” (Hieromonk Jonah)

 

“Forgiveness in the Christian sense is properly an act of self-emptying. It is a voluntary act of foolishness in which we act in a manner contrary to the shame that has been cast upon us. Understood in this manner, forgiveness is of a piece with bearing the Cross itself.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

 

“Jesus’ first words on the Cross are of forgiveness. The people chanted ‘Crucify Him!’ and He was mocked, scourged, tortured, and nailed to the Cross…Even so, He asked that God forgive them, because even as they looked upon an innocent man and attacked Him, He knew that humans lack understanding. We know this too, and we are called to forgive as He does, even in the very moment when we are being attacked.” (Elissa Bjeletich)

 

 

“Forgetting offences is a sign of sincere repentance. If you keep the memory of them, you may believe you have repented but you are like someone running in his sleep. Let no one consider it a minor defect, this darkness often clouds the eyes even of spiritual people.” (St. John Climacus)

 

“We all sin, and we all sin every day. Thus, we are all in need of forgiveness on a daily basis, from the Lord and from one another. If we do not learn how to forgive as we go along, we will build walls and grudges and our relationships will quickly break down on a fundamental level. If we learn how to forgive one another, we will be able to create long and lasting relationships.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

 

“To be a Christian means to love one another...Can we truly say that the members of any given Parish love another? How many people sit in the same pew at the same church, at the same service and yet will not speak to one another at the conclusion of the church service. To be a Christian means to forgive...One cannot exercise forgiveness, without first loving. One must love in order to forgive.” (Bishop John of Amorion)

 

“Forgiving faults or covering the offenses of others is necessary to any relationship. It is tempting, especially in an argument, to bring up all the mistakes the other person has ever made. Love, however, keeps its mouth shut—difficult though that may be....As we grow to be like Christ, we will acquire God’s ability to forget the confessed sins of the past.” (Life Application Study Bible, Proverbs 17:9)

 

"While some Christians like to take so many passages of Scripture literally and use such passages against others when it suits them, when it comes to the things they are not so keen on doing themselves, such as forgiving enemies, they come up with a list of excuses as long as your arm. It is therefore essential that we have the humility to acknowledge that we keep falling short of God’s commandments, and that we need to repent." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

 

“Counselors will tell you that the only character flaws that can really destroy you are the ones you won’t admit. Crucial to true prayer, then, is confession and repentance. Again, prayer both requires and produces this humility. Prayer brings you into God’s presence, where our shortcomings are exposed. Then the new awareness of insufficiency drives us to seek God even more intensely for forgiveness and help.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

 

“Much of our struggle with forgiveness lies in the trap of psychology and law. We hear the commandment as a legal requirement – “You must do this in order to have that.” But we experience the practice as a psychological failure. “I try to forgive them, but I still feel the same way.” Neither law nor psychology reveal the truth about forgiveness nor explain its essential role in the spiritual life. Our failure in these terms, however, should tell us more about the inadequacy of the terms themselves rather than the true nature of forgiveness. To tell someone what they ought to do (law) is sometimes effective. To tell someone how they ought to feel (law + psychology) almost never works. Our popular contemporary conception of forgiveness belongs to this latter category. We will never get it right.” (Father Stephen Freeman)