Forgiveness Comes Before Freedom in the Dictionary

Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary.  Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness, of course, it always comes before freedom in the dictionary.

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Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Over the course of our lives, we receive many offences from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offence or 2. We can forgive.

Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offence, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm. 

When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offence. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say,”I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me any more.”  Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offence no longer has power over us.

You will say to me, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same. Jesus told us a great story about this principle. In Matthew 18, he tells us about a servant that owed a king a great deal of money; by today’s standards it would be several million dollars. The servant could not pay the debt and the king commanded that the man, his wife and children and all he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant then fell down and begged him to forgive the debt. The king relented and forgave the servant the entire debt.

The servant then went out from the king and found someone who owed him several thousand dollars.  He took the man by the throat and demanded the man pay him what he owed him. The debtor begged the man to have compassion on him and he would pay him what was owed but the servant would not show mercy. He had the man thrown into prison. Soon it was reported to the king what the servant had done to his debtor. The king then called the servant and demanded to know why he had treated the other man so harshly seeing that he had received mercy. He then threw the man into prison until all of his debt was paid. The story ends with this admonition from Jesus, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.

The point of this story is that we all stand before God owing a great debt; that debt being our sins and trespasses. If we want God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned or trespassed against us. It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.

You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.” You’re right, I don’t, but God does. 

In order to do this, we also must understand what forgiveness is not:

1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.

2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still  may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system. 

Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.

You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom.   


Like our GPS, am recalibrating this week…reblogging a few of my faves!



35 thoughts on “Forgiveness Comes Before Freedom in the Dictionary

  1. Valerie, This is so true! I always have to keep the perspective in mind of how much God has forgiven me. God, who is infinitely perfect, and who never did anyone any wrong, still forgave me my sins against him. So, who am I, a sinner by nature, and saved only by God’s grace, to not forgive someone who sins against me, as many times as he sins against me, too.

    But, I like how you pointed out what forgiveness does not mean. Many people, even sometimes the ones we are are forgiving, get this wrong concept of forgiveness, and I believe that is because they have a wrong concept of God’s forgiveness, too.

    So many people think God forgives anyone who professes faith in him, and from that point on he no longer sees any of their sins. Yet, our Lord’s whole purpose in forgiving us is not just to remove the punishment of sin, but it is to deliver us out of our bondage to sin. He told the woman caught in adultery that he did not condemn her, but then he said, “Go and sin no more.” And, he does still see when we sin against him, otherwise we wouldn’t need the bulk of the NT.

    Forgiveness, thus, does not conceal sin, or ignore it, or give a pass for the person to continue in the same sins. Forgiveness just refuses to make the sinner pay for what he did to us. We don’t get even. No pay back. And, no holding bitterness in our hearts, either. And, forgiveness does not turn a blind eye to further sins, especially addictive sins. For true forgiveness has the same goal as God’s. And, the goal is to see the sinner set free from his bondage by the grace of God. It is to restore the offender to right fellowship with God, too.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Amen-Amein Sister in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua!! 💕

    Our ONE True GOD’S LOVE 💕💜 is ETERNAL THROUGH HIS SON Christ-MESSIAH Jesus-Yeshua for Today and Everyday Forevermore Everyone!!

    I Love you all Everyone through Jesus-Yeshua Christ, because HE LOVED EVERYONE FIRST!! 💕 Praise Jesus-Yeshua Christ-Messiah for Today and Everyday!!

    Love 💕 Always and Shalom, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Val, you know that we had issues of Estrangement. It was devastating to be separated from my 76 year old Mom. I’ve seen her 5 times now since those fateful days. Fortunately my kids are good at heart and understand when I tried to explain that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Bible reference). Forgiveness and freedom makes one stand tall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Relationships are so hard! We miss those we love but sometimes they are very toxic for us and we must stay away from them. We can forgive them but that doesn’t mean we have to let them harm us with their words!


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