Deserving Forgiveness

Over 20 years ago, I went through a program at my church that taught a systematic way to tell people about God. We learned how to share in a way that was personal and included illustrations and specific verses from scripture.

One of the illustrations that made a tremendous impact on me was this one:

Wrapped gift - plain brown paper & personalized, layered fabric

If I offered you a gift, you would have to
acknowledge the gift’s presence,
reach out your open hands,
transfer that package from the giver to yourself
and then unwrap it and accept it as yours
in order to truly receive it as a gift.

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

Isn’t that beautiful?
Had you ever thought of receiving a gift
in such an intricate, personal way?


This illustrates the steps we must go through to accept the gift of Christ as our Savior
and with it, His forgiveness.

Recently, a complete stranger who doesn’t know me at all
quoted words from one of my blogposts. He pointed out in conversation
that I had written a story about Joy and forgiveness. He said that I mentioned that some people “do not deserve to be forgiven.” 

I was not given a post reference and I couldn’t easily find it through my blog’s search tool. This statement just stabbed at my gut. Had I REALLY said that? It doesn’t SOUND like something that I would say in conversation or writing … at least not in the way and context that it was thrown at me. I believe we should all strive to forgive others when they hurt us, whether they ask for forgiveness or not.

I spent several days mulling over this thought
and began to think more about forgiveness
what it looks like
who deserves it
and when we should offer it.

I came back to the blog … and finally found my words here. 

Then it all made sense. That line is straight off the screen.
But, oh how different it looked when it was twisted with an attitude in which it was not written.
Oh, yes! Those words were correct … but the heart of how they were written was misconstrued by the reader.

Wrapped gift - plain brown paper & personalized, layered fabric

None of us d.e.s.e.r.v.e.s forgiveness.
I don’t deserve forgiveness for any transgression that I have committed
any more than you deserve forgiveness for any pain that you have unleashed.
We don’t deserve forgiveness for
lying, cheating, murder, stealing or breaking a vow.
Forgiveness is not something we deserve.
Nor can we earn forgiveness.
No. Forgiveness is a gift that we offer to heal relationships.
It is a gift that can take time to package and prepare.
It is a gift that can be very difficult to release into the receiver’s grasp.
And there are times, when the recipient does not even WANT the gift.
By refusing forgiveness, they continue to cry “victim” or claim rejection.
But …. you nor I can FORCE them to accept forgiveness .. and healing.

But, always, in giving the gift of forgiveness
we are the ones who receive the greatest blessing.

None of us “deserve” forgiveness
which is all the more reason that I do my best to offer it quickly
and actively encourage my children
to offer it in spite of themselves
and in spite of the actions of the offender.

4 thoughts on “Deserving Forgiveness

  1. You couldn’t be more right.. about WHO benefits from the forgiveness. There is a big difference between forgiveness and complete trust, they don’t necessarily go hand in hand. We do forgive each other and love each other in the same way… IN SPITE of each other, IN SPITE of who we are, otherwise, there’d be a whole lot less love and forgiveness period. good words, my friend.


  2. Oh, Karen! When I saw the title of this post in my email inbox, my heart sank. I *so* do not deserve forgiveness. On the outside, I seem to be managing to do the right things and I keep hearing from people what a big heart I have. But on the inside… there is anger and hurt and bitterness and unforgiveness and JEALOUSY and all kinds of bad things. I know that God sees my heart. It grieves me that He has to look inside me and see all of that awfulness. And yet He gives me gifts… He forgives. All of it. And I don’t deserve it.

    I’ve been watching this space off and on for awhile now. I know that your ex-husband hurt you and your children. I’ve never seen you write anything that made me think you wanted God or anyone else to withhold forgiveness from him. I’ve seen your hurt and frustration. But don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you don’t think your ex deserves forgiveness. You have been gracious in ways that most people could not imagine. I don’t know what else could be expected of you when someone puts asunder what God has joined together.

    Thank you for sharing your journey through pain on into acceptance and forgiveness. You do set a good example for us all.


    1. Carolyn,
      KNOWING that you have those struggles ((jealousy, anger, bitterness), is half the battle! God can help you with these, ya know? And if you’re so well aware that they come to mind when you see a notification in your inbox, He must be busy at work. Keep looking at them! Figure out the root of their source and you and He can dig them out! You can do it!

      And my ex and the hurt and frustration? I know that he didn’t do anything maliciously or with the intent to hurt us. He thought he was doing what was best. Divorce hurts no matter how it happens. I don’t blame him and I certainly forgive him.

      Thanks for reading. I so appreciate your time and attention. I’ll be praying God uses any words or ideas that He inspires here to foster healing in your life.



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