Transcribed by Jeff Fenske from TBN, 6/19/08
John Tesh: This brings us to the biggest topic we have not yet discussed. It actually happens to be a topic on the radio show as well. Cause Duke University studied this, and they have empirical data to show that if you want to lower your blood pressure, if you want to cure depression, if you want to live an average of seven years longer, you need to do this one thing.
It is one of the most difficult things in the world to do. For some reason we wrestle with it. People die without being able to accomplish it. It is forgiveness.
And I want to know from our experts, here, how important is forgiveness in a relationship? How can you practice it? How can you get to it? What’s the pathway?
Francis Chan (Pastor): It’s huge, because Biblically, we pray like the Lord’s prayer, which just about everyone in the world knows. We say, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our….” We’re saying, “God, forgive me in the same way as I forgive someone else.” So this is huge! You’re saying, “God, okay, so if I’m only going to forgive a person this much,” I’m saying, “God, forgive me that much also.”
Gary Smalley (relationship counselor/speaker/author): I really think that’s the key, because it’s so much easier for me to even verbalize the words, “I forgive someone,” because I recognize all the things God’s forgiven me, all the things I’ve done in life to offend people throughout my entire 68 years of life. And so it’s a lot easier for me to forgive.
But also, I forgive because I know that when someone does something to me to offend me and I feel the pain, I know from scripture—one of my favorite verses on earth is 2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10, 2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10, because it says, “when we go through insults and harm and difficulties and hardships and all the junk we go through, and we get offended by people, God’s grace is always sufficient. His grace is his love and power he gives us. And we get filled up with more of his love and power when and after we’ve been offended.
So it’s pretty easy, it’s easier for me to forgive someone when I realize that I’ve been gifted by them in a sense. But this has taken me, you know, years, to get to this place.
John Tesh: But then you have a woman who comes into therapy who’s been cheated on by her husband five times, and she’s been in therapy with you guys. You say, well, “you gotta get to forgiveness, you gotta get to forgiveness.” When is it enough? When is it over?
Amy Smalley (Gary’s daughter-in-law, marriage counselor): It’s really hard, I think, sometimes, to get ‘forgiveness,’ because…sometimes people will interpret forgiveness as them saying, “you know, it was okay for you to do that to me. It was okay for you to commit adultery. It was okay for you to physically assault me. It was okay.” And that’s not what forgiveness is all about. Forgiveness is about not holding that blame, or not basically keeping that energy. Because unforgiveness takes maintenance. You know, harboring that bitterness and all that stuff, it takes energy.
And it’s basically: forgiveness says, “I release you from that. I release you, and I will move on.” And when you can phrase it, and we can really get it in our heads that that’s what forgiveness is about. Yes, it’s about releasing that other person, but a lot of it is about releasing us.
John Tesh: And if there’s no repentance there, if someone is harming you, if someone continues to cheat on you, I don’t have the scripture in front of me, but I’m assuming the Bible does not say well ‘stick around and be abused.’
Michael Smalley (Gary’s son, marriage counselor): No, it certainly doesn’t. But I think sometimes people’s biggest block towards forgiveness is in fact they don’t realize that forgiveness is for them. We’re not talking about reconciliation. Reconciliation means the guy is apologizing, he’s saying ‘I want to get my life right.’ He’s confessing that sin to Christ, and forgiveness is me and for me. Because here’s the deal: what Christ taught us is that Christ literally can’t live with you if you have unforgiveness in your heart. This is not a little thing we’re talking about. I mean the two are totally incompatible.
Gary Smalley: We are in darkness.
Michael Smalley: We are in total darkness, and you are literally building a wall, a cell, a Fort Knox of your soul that prevents you from that relationship with Christ that you so desperately need for all the other junk going on. And the saddest part is that the only thing unforgiveness hurts—because, see, we think “if I hold unforgiveness, I think I’m punishing her”—the only person I’m punishing is me.
Gary Smalley: Unforgiveness is drinking poison and hoping the other person gets sick.
John Tesh: Wow, that’s deep.
Francis Chan: I was going to say it’s our one opportunity to really show the love of Christ. Because it’s when she’s [pointing to his wife, Lisa] loving me I’m loving her back, that’s not the love of Christ. The love of Christ is when you’re nailed to a cross and you’re saying, “forgive them, they know not what they do.” Now, I’m showing the world the love of Christ.
And people get so angry when someone offends them. But I’m going, man, that’s your only chance to show Christian love on this earth is when you are offended and you love them in return. Because Jesus says, “if you love those who love you back, big deal, anyone can do that. But you’ll be my sons when you love those who hurt you, who hate you, your enemies.”
And so I tell couples: what a great opportunity. This may be the greatest opportunity of your life to show the love of Jesus by forgiving your husband or forgiving your wife.
Francis Chan left his 1600 member church to reassess. “There’s a LACK OF PEACE in so many people … WE PRETEND.” “There is this NARROW ROAD … FEW will find it.” “Let’s go back to what THE TRUTH has always been…and has NEVER BEEN POPULAR.”
Francis Chan Freedom Quotes!