The Four Promises of Forgiveness (see Matt. 6:12; 1 Cor. 13:5; Eph. 4:32)
1. “I will not dwell on this incident.”
We haven’t forgiven if we can’t let it go. If we’re brooding on an injury or transgression after a confession then we’re holding the guilt over a person’s head. “I will forgive you but I will not forget” may in fact be unforgiveness. I love Corrie Ten Boom’s comment in reply to a former colleague asking if she remembered the colleague’s transgression from some years prior. Corrie said, “I distinctly remember forgetting.”
2. I will not bring this incident up and use it against you.
When we haven’t forgiven, we can store a transgression until that “right time” when we can attack with it, leverage some future outcome or gain some advantage. That’s not forgiveness; that’s manipulation. It’s old fashioned “pay back.” Then we’re in need of confessing our wrongdoing.
3. I will not talk to others about this incident.
If we forgive a person then the matter should not be spread to others. Apart from serious situations requiring counseling or the like, we never raise the matter with others.
4. I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.
This is sometimes the most difficult part. And it’s this part that requires something akin to the seven A’s of confession. Full confessions enable full reconciliation. The aim is redemption and restoration of the relationship and a truly forgiving person seeks that.