This past weekend in our teaching time I talked about some important things that forgiveness is not.
1. Forgiving is not forgetting. With time that might happen–in fact, I hope it does. However, forgetting something quickly when you have been caused deep pain just means you have a bad memory.
On the flip side . . . forgiving and then reminding the person of how they have wounded us is really not forgiving at all.
2. Forgiving does not release someone from the consequences of their actions. Often there are legal, financial or relational ramifications to a damaging incident or behavior. Even though God showed mercy to Cain when he killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4), God still exiled Cain from the land.
On the flip side . . . forgiving does mean that I give up my right to demand revenge.
3. Forgiving does not always mean reconciliation. God always desires healthy, healed relationships. However, there are some circumstances (Ie. Sexual or physical abuse) in which, even though you have forgiven the person, you should stay away from them. Just because I forgive someone does not mean I have to meet them for coffee at Starbucks every Tuesday morning at 7.