Learning Objectives: At the end of the lesson, you will be familiar with:
1. Unforgiveness and how it differs from forgiveness.
2. At least seven ways people can deal with unforgiveness other than forgiving.
3. At least three ways of forgiveness by emotional replacement.
4. The meaning of the acronym REACH and the pyramid model to reach forgiveness.
Introduction: Forgiveness is at the center of Christianity. Christians are forgiven sinners and are called—even commanded—to extend forgiveness to those whom they perceive to sin against them. This course will give you some understanding of forgiveness that stems from clinical research seasoned with an understanding of Biblical forgiveness.
Forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity.
I. Biblical Mandates
A. Godly Forgiveness: God forgives if people confess and repent. God knows people’s hearts. He knows when they are wrong and when they are truly repentant.
B. Human Forgiveness: Different from Godly forgiveness. Humans are on an equal level with each other. Humans cannot demand that a person repent, because humans can’t be certain about the person’s motives or about ways that we sinfully deceive ourselves to self-justify ourselves. Therefore, the Bible is clear that we are to forgive—period. This is true in virtually all of the verses that deal with interpersonal forgiveness in the New Testament
C. Instructor perspective: The view I will put forth of forgiveness is aimed at other-oriented forgiveness. That is an important difference from most of the psychology related books on forgiveness. These books take an approach that says, “Forgive because it will bless YOU. It will make you feel freer. It will make you happier. It will make you healthier.” I believe that forgiveness does all of those things, but I think we should forgive primarily because it blesses the one forgiven.
A. Unforgiveness: cold emotions of resentment, bitterness, anger, hostility, and perhaps hatred that motivate people to seek revenge or avoid a person whom they perceive as having offended or harmed them
B. Forgiveness: emotions of non-possessive love or compassion that reduce the cold emotions of unforgiveness, reduce the motivation to exact revenge or avoid a person, and promote a desire for conciliation or reconciliation, if doing so is safe, prudent, and possible
C. Forgiveness is not:
1. Denying that a wrong occurred.
2. Calling wrong right (justification/rationalization).
1. Condoning (it doesn’t matter).
2. Pardoning or exonerating (I choose not to hold you accountable).
3. Excusing (there were a lot of good reasons).
4. Reconciling (restoring trust through trustworthy behavior).
D. People can get over unforgiveness many ways besides forgiving:
1. Seeing the books balanced.
2. Getting revenge.
3. Seeing the person get what they deserve.
1. Believing that political or legal justice has been served.
E. Mental Changes:
1. Psychologically defending through denial or projection.
F. Letting go:
1. Deferring judgment to God
G. Doing something positive:
2. Working for social justice
III. Understanding Unforgiveness and Forgiveness.
1. People perceive an event as a hurt or offense.
1. People respond with fear or anger (or commonly, a mixture of both).
2. People ruminate about the event, aftermath, and consequences and perhaps engage in vengeful rumination.
3. People develop cold emotions of unforgiveness.