Foundations: Forgiveness does not mean allowing someone to hurt you
by Tom Holladay
Question: Does forgiving someone mean you have to just let them keep hurting you?
Answer: No, it does not. Remember that when God forgives us we still suffer the consequences for those sins. That same principle applies to our relationships with each other.
Let me explain. Forgiving someone’s wrong does not mean that you can’t challenge them to do what is right or that you automatically should begin to trust them to do what is right. Forgiving someone for lying does not mean you have to start believing everything they say. Even though you have forgiven them, it will take them some time to rebuild your trust. That’s the consequence of their sin. Forgiveness is immediate, trust must be rebuilt little by little.
Let me be very clear about this: forgiving someone does not mean that you have to pretend that the sin they committed against you never happened. That would be foolish, and in cases such as physical abuse it could even be life threatening. Forgiveness means that you let go of your feelings of anger and retribution and hatred. It does not mean that you have to allow another person to continually hurt you in the same ways.