Do you use the same forgiveness model when working with people of faith, such as Christians? Especially, those who believe you are to forgive immediately? Also, what is your approach to self-forgiveness? Or do you believe self-forgiveness from a Christian perspective? These questions are based on Biblical scripture Matthew 18:21-35

Our process model of forgiveness can be used with people of faith by adding themes common to that faith. For example, suppose a client is in the Work Phase of the forgiveness process.  The task is to see the inherent worth of the one who offended. The counselor could ask, “Is the person who hurt you made in the image and likeness of God?”


There is no Christian imperative to forgive immediately.  When Paul tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger, the Greek is parorgismos, an intensive kind of anger that could include revenge-seeking.  He is not telling us to forgive immediately.


Self-forgiveness from the Christian perspective does not mean that one forgives one’s own sins.  Instead, it means that one offers to the self what one offers to others when they offend you: understanding, compassion and love despite the bad behavior.  When we self-forgive we try to love ourselves again, not forgive our sins.
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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness


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