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You don't have to Forgive - by Mary L. Weinstein

Have you ever been told that you have to forgive people no matter what?  How Biblically true is that?  Have you ever studied all the scriptures on forgiveness to see if that’s true?  If it is true, then God should be forgiving sinners even if they don’t repent. 


When I took the course, “Healing for the Sinned Against,” Dr. Leah Coulter presented this very different perspective on forgiveness.  It was quite challenging because we have always been taught we must forgive.  There’s no argument there but there’s more to this concept.  Dr. Coulter explains this powerful dynamic beautifully in her book, “Repentance and Forgiveness.”  She discusses how the scriptures show that there must be genuine repentance on behalf of the sinner in order for the sinner to be forgiven.  Then the one who is sinned against (the offended) must be ready and willing to forgive the sinner (offender). 


Luke 17:3 says, “Be careful. IF your brother sins against you, rebuke him. IF he repents, forgive him.”  Here we see there is a condition to the forgiveness; there must be repentance.  Matthew 5:23-24 says, “If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  It is evident here that when you have sinned against another person, you are to reconcile with that person first before you can come to God.  Coulter explains that there must be repentance on a horizontal level before there can be repentance on a vertical level. 


When you have been wronged, your job is to release the offender to God and pray and keep your heart open to the possibility of repentance on behalf of the offender.  You are to revoke your right to retaliate or take justice into your hands.  If there is no repentance, the Word of God tells us God will vindicate for us.  The offender cannot be let off the hook by being told they are forgiven when they never even asked to be forgiven.  Some people won't even care if you say you forgive them without them repenting. 


It is extremely important that people who have been abused or battered know the truth about forgiveness.  Too many have been forced to “forgive” rapists or abusers and it has been detrimental to their healing process.  Churches, leaders, pastors and therapists need to fully understand the concept of true repentance and forgiveness before they counsel others to forgive under false pretenses.  I challenge people to read Dr. Coulter’s book and be ready for a paradigm shift.


Mary L. Weinstein is a Certified Life Purpose Coach through Life Purpose Coaching Centers, Int'l.  She holds a Bachelor of Theology in Biblical Counseling from The King's College & Seminary.  She is an ordained Minister, Biblical Counselor and Bible Teacher.  Mary is the Founder and CEO of Friends with Purpose Ministries.  Her website is http://www.friendswithpurpose.com

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