Total Forgiveness (Week 1)

May 31, 2018

The Counseling Corner

By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th

“To err is human, but to forgive is divine.” – Alexander Pope

Last month an informative and relevant women’s retreat was sponsored by the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Rev. Louis E. Sibley, Pastor. The conference was held at Green Lake Conference Center using a theme of: “Godly Women Forgive Totally.” This column will focus on the aspects of forgiveness which were discussed and why forgiveness is so essential. This column will not be suggesting that one simply wave a white flag as an offer of forgiveness for all past offenses and pronounce ‘all is well.’ Forgiveness is far more complicated than that. Neither will this writer suggest your feelings of sorrow, grief and anger are improper. They are natural and justifiable in certain situations. What’s not natural is forgiveness, which is exactly why it is so crucial. Forgiving someone for a horrendous breach of trust or for an offense that is especially egregious is something you may never feel like doing, but you must and you can.

The great theologian, C.S. Lewis once said, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they need to forgive!” The doctrine of forgiveness is right at the heart of Christianity: “Forgive us our sins as we also forgive everyone who sins against us. (Luke 11:4.) Jesus says that we will not be forgiven if forgiveness is not in us.

The theme of the Scriptures is replete with teachings on forgiveness: (1) God commands humans to forgive other humans regardless of the offense (Matt. 6:12, 14-15, 18:21, 35); and (2) forgiveness is to be immediate without a period of un-forgiveness (Matt. 5:23- 24, Mark 11:25).

In Luke 17, God commands us to forgive and liken the process to a “duty.” Granting forgiveness can often feel like a duty and most would agree that forgiveness is first granted then felt. True biblical forgiveness involves applying the grace and forgiveness we receive from Christ to one’s spouse, loved ones and others.

For the next 3 weeks, this column will expound on the topics of Mt. Zion Women’s Spiritual Enrichment Retreat. Next week’s column will feature: “How to Forgive Others” taught by Pastor Brenda Kearney of Maranatha Christian Fellowship.


The conference was very meaningful to me. Forgiveness is a subject that I have struggled with for years with my sibling. I am able to forgive everyone but this sibling and it seems twice a year, there’s something new to forgive. Then, I am upset with myself because Christ tells me I have to forgive with the measure that He forgives me. Ouch!! I learned I have to totally forgive or else I’m sinning. I learned I am hindering my growth in Christ and limiting all that God has for me when I don’t forgive myself. The fellowship, the movie, the crafts project were all so beneficial.

– Pam, Retreat Attendee

Next Week: Forgiving Others

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in this article, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. This information is for educational purposes only. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.