When someone has wronged us, in our process of forgiving them, we also relinquish the outcome of our forgiveness.

We relinquish and abandon the way we think and feel about how everything should turn out. We give it up to God.

And we relinquish and abandon our anger, resentment, revenge, gossip, pride, retaliation, prejudice, unkindness, and self-pity. We lay our weapons down.

Forgiveness says: “God, I forgive this person unconditionally. I relinquish the outcome to you. Whatever happens in the future, I’ll let you do it. Even if nothing ever happens, I do forgive completely. Even if the person never changes, I do forgive completely.”

True forgiveness relinquishes the outcome and leaves the changing to God.

Even so, Paul admitted the limitations of forgiveness. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

Forgiveness on our side doesn’t guarantee forgiveness from the other side. A full reconciliation may or may not take place.

Forgiveness doesn’t release offenders from their responsibility for their actions. They are still accountable for what they said or did.

Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the consequences of sinful actions. The parent says to a child, “I forgive you, but you must still bear the consequences.”

It would be nice if forgiveness could miraculously remove the consequences of the past. It doesn’t. We sometimes end up bearing short or long term consequences due to the sinful actions of others, even physical, relational, or emotional consequences.

Jesus understood consequences. His death on the cross was a real death, because sin has real consequences. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. He took upon himself the consequences we deserved. In some cases we may have to establish boundaries for the future.

Forgiveness doesn’t erase the past. Yet God can only heal the pains of our past as we forgive.

A friend of mine said to me after forgiving and releasing an offender and receiving inner healing from the Lord, “I can still remember the painful memory, but it doesn’t hurt anymore!”

Action Step: Relinquish and abandon the outcome of your forgiveness.

~ Pastor Dave