Day 3 – Psychology of Forgiveness

Day 3 of 4 • This day’s reading

Forgiveness requires us to surrender ourselves, our pride and our right to be offended. 

A psychologist, Carl Rogers, suggested that in order for us to narrow the gap between our present self and our ideal self we need to engage in ‘unconditional positive regard’. What this means is that our regard for ourselves and for others should always be positive, even in the absence of ‘conditions’. 

In other words, people do not have to do anything in order to receive positive regard from you. Now this may sound bizarre. However, this is exactly what Christ implores us to do; “to love each other as we love ourselves”; to receive forgiveness whilst offering forgiveness, even without an apology; to extend grace without any condition.

Hearing ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I messed up’, ‘I feel terrible for what I did’ is like music to our ears. It feels good when someone acknowledges their wrongdoing towards you and oftentimes it makes it much easier to forgive them, right? But what if they never apologise. The reality is that some people will never apologise for their wrongdoing towards you, and waiting on them to apologise before you forgive will cost you your mental freedom. This is why we must LEARN TO FORGIVE, EVEN WITHOUT AN APOLOGY.

It doesn’t make sense to forgive those who have no remorse. It defies our childlike understanding of basic manners—the staple of every conversation, yes, no, thank you, please and sorry.

Only people who are really striving to look and live more like God’s word concerning forgiveness are able to rise to the challenge of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a fleshly activity; it is spiritual, but  we often forgive, expecting a fleshly response and so we become disheartened because the act of forgiving someone has not appeased our flesh.

As Christians, one of the core elements of our relationship with God is forgiveness. We would have no relationship with God if He did not reach out and forgive us, even in our sin. We would not have a relationship with Him if Christ—God the Son—chose to wait for an apology from us before dying for our sins on the cross. God did not wait for an apology before forgiving us. ‘…While we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIV). The Lord’s Prayer includes, ‘Forgive us our trespasses AS WE (present continuous) forgive those that have trespassed against us’ …not those who have apologised to us.

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