Does Forgiving Make You A Doormat?

Day 1 of 6 • This day’s reading


Forgiveness is Not Condoning

There are a lot of reasons we struggle to forgive, and one is that we feel like forgiving is condoning what someone did – like we’re just laying down and taking it, being a doormat. But that’s not what forgiveness is. 

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines condoning asbrushing off, excusing, discounting, disregarding, glossing over, or overlooking.” Forgiving someone does not mean we’re brushing it off, disregarding the hurt, pretending it never happened, or letting them get away with it. Forgiveness is not validating someone’s actions; it’s freeing us from their actions. When we choose to forgive, we’re obeying God, and we’re getting free.

When I was a Bible school instructor, I used to teach the subject of forgiveness every year in a class called Blood Covenant. One day after I taught it, an older student — let’s call him Hugo — came to my office after class. Hugo was a businessman from another country, and he had left his business in the care of his business partner while he came to school in America. Unfortunately, the partner stole from him and from the employees, and Hugo was forced to sue him. 

So Hugo asked me that day, “Karen, you say I must forgive this man who stole from me and my employees. Does that mean I just let him get away with it? Am I not allowed to take him to court?”

I assured Hugo that’s not what forgiveness means. Forgiveness is a heart issue. First we forgive, then yes, we might have to take some action in the natural. 

If an employee, for example, is stealing from the company or treating another employee badly, of course he must be reprimanded, or even penalized, fired or sued. If a child is being bullied in school, action must be taken. If someone has been abusive or even killed someone, they must face the consequences and be held accountable for their actions. 

In other words, there is a practical, natural side to this. If someone has stolen from you or committed a crime of any kind, it’s okay to take legal action against them. If there are issues happening in everyday life that need to be confronted, then do it. Just forgive first. It’s just not okay to harbor unforgiveness against them while you’re doing it. For your own heart’s sake. 

This is an excerpt from Karen’s book “I Forgive You, But…”