We talked about anger and forgiveness this past week at Grace. I didn't have time to get into some material that I would love to have dealt with. One of the topics I left out was the temptation of counterfeit forgiveness. That is, the stuff that feels like forgiveness but is only a cheap imitation. My thanks to Dr. Ralph Wilson for this excellent material.
Counterfeit 1: Excusing
Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing. It reaches beyond excusing. As CS Lewis says, Forgiveness says, “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” But excusing says, “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.” If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what at first seemed to be the sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. If you had a perfect excuse, you would not need forgiveness; if the whole of your actions needs forgiveness, then there was no excuse for it.
Counterfeit 2: Minimizing the Hurt
If our primary reaction when we're harmed by another is to tell ourselves feebly, It really didn't hurt that much, there are times it just doesn't wash. Unless we see the difference between acting as if the injury is minor, and pardoning one who has hurt us deeply, we will eventually find ourselves unwilling to "forgive."
Counterfeit 3: Blind Trust
Forgiving isn't the same as trusting. Forgiveness is given, but trust is earned. To someone faced with a person who perpetually breaks his promise, C.S. Lewis prescribes forgiveness: "This doesn't mean you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every trace of resentment in your own heart--every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out." But to trust again, well now that may take some time.
What are some other counterfeit forms of forgiveness?