Qualified forgiveness? or, “I forgive you because Jesus says I have to.”


A minister friend of mine and I were talking the other day about various aspects of Christianity and he asked my thoughts on what is the most important thing to be a good Christian, other than acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God and confessing our sins to Him. Well, as we discussed things I suggested loving one another, humility, service to others and a few more things, he finally said, those are all important, but forgiveness is the most important. As we spoke more, I got to thinking about how as a child my brother and I would get into an argument or fight about something, my mother would intervene and tell us both to apologize and then after we did she told us to forgive the other, since we were both at fault. She felt if two were fighting, both had part of the blame. We would hem and haw a bit, then, knowing we were probably already going to get spanked, and not wanting further punishment we grudgingly forgave each other, but not REALLY. Saying the words, but not meaning them. After mulling those thoughts over and talking about that with James, he quoted this scripture:

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:26

And, said, “over and over in both the Old and New Testament God commands us to forgive.” I agreed but then had thoughts of times I have heard people say, when forgiving someone, “I forgive you because God tells me I must.” We discussed that some, and if told as part of a teaching moment, then it has one meaning, and one person is explaining part of Christ’s teachings. However, if someone apologizes and the other forgives, saying it is because God commands, is it really forgiveness? Totally different implication when said in some contexts. Somewhat an incomplete forgiveness as it seems to be saying I am forgiving because I HAVE to, but not because I want to do it. Just like when my brother and I were children.

I don’t recall ever actually saying those words, but, Oh, have I thought them. I was giving qualified forgiveness and not genuine forgiveness. My heart wasn’t in it if my mind was where it was with thinking it was because I had to do so. Thinking or saying that, when forgiving means one will offer the words, but not honestly mean what they say. They want to hold on to the anger, they want to bear a grudge and if they give full, unconditional forgiveness, that won’t be able to do that. It is false forgiveness.

We as Christians are supposed to have the heart and mind of Christ, not an easy task for humans as we want to hold on to things of the flesh. We sorta want to be like Jesus, but not quite, we want to hold grudges, we want to be able to have cause to be upset and get angry.

As I said, I have thought the words, even though I never said them out loud, but that doesn’t matter, the intent to not fully forgive was there. Because of that, I owe apologies to many people for the qualified forgiveness I pretended to give, and to the many I am sorry that I did not give you what you deserved, forgiveness, complete, without any reservations.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 6:36-38


Lord, Praise You for Your Glory. I am so grateful for the gifts and mercy You provide me, for the instructions I need to improve my walk with Christ. I ask You to help me remember that forgiveness needs to be full, complete, unconditional and not to forgive grudgingly. I pray that You continue your walk with me and help me walk as a better servant and example of Your mercies. Draw me closer to Jesus and give me the guidance and understanding of Your plan for my life. I pray You work in the hearts of loved ones to bring them to You or draw them closer and that You show them Your mercy and unconditional love and forgiveness.



Thank you for taking time to visit this blog, please share if you feel it would be helpful to someone. I again, wish blessings to all and hope that each can be a blessing to others today.



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