Forgiveness if one of the greatest promises of the New Testament, and one of the hardest things for us to do.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12)
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Paul said that he “forgot what was behind” (Phil. 3:13,14), but that was of things that some might want to cling to. He remembered years after he served as apostle what he life was before, how he was the “foremost of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15,16) and thus he always remembered how great grace was. Forgiveness lets us let it go, not act like it didn’t happen.
Forgiveness is not excusing. It was wrong, that’s why it needed to be forgiven. It’s still wrong after your/they were forgiven, and it so forgiveness doesn’t mean you can/should do it again.
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation, although the first is necessary for the second. We should, for our own sake, forgive others, even if they remain umreconciliable. We are told to be at peace with all men “as much as it depends on us” (Rom. 12:18). This is what Jesus did for those on the cross, no matter how irreconcilable they were. It is no coincidence that in the Beatitudes Jesus blesses the “peacemakers” and then the “persecuted” (Matt. 5:9,10) one after the other — they are often the same folks. Seeking peace is on us, not the other, first.
Forgiveness is because we have been forgiven.
“…forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13)