More from Pastor Chris Brauns, author of Unpacking Forgivness:
Here, the question is, “Does conditional forgiveness lead to bitterness?” I spend a pretty good chunk of Unpacking Forgiveness on that subject. . . here is a brief excerpt.
Some would argue that “automatic forgiveness” or unconditional forgiveness is the key to avoiding bitterness. In part, the argument here goes back to the matter of defining forgiveness. Those who argue for automatic forgiveness generally define forgiveness psychologically or therapeutically – – forgiveness is seeking to feel bitter according to that line of thinking.
And, if that is your definition, then the only way to avoid bitterness or negative feelings is to forgive. But, the Bible always presents forgiveness as something that happens between two parties. Fundamentally, forgiveness is not a feeling.
In reality, I believe that the notion of automatic forgiveness fosters bitterness. We are created with a standard of justice written on our hearts. When we forgive someone who is not repentant, then we are acting in a way that is unjust. Deep down, we are saying that forgiveness must sometimes happen at the expense of justice…