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Forgiveness

You’ve heard the phrase “forgive your enemies,” and then silently wondered, “how can I possibly forgive the person who raped me, killed my brother, beat up my daughter, or got me hooked on heroin?” An understandable reaction to the terror and torment inflicted upon innocent victims, and ourselves. How can we? What will it take? Years of suffering and bitterness? Revenge? Years of what we think are unanswered prayers?

Although, I’ve never endured any of the above horrendous acts, I’ve nevertheless had a hard time forgiving certain people for wrongs that hurt me deeply. Some were family situations, which added to the injury. But I can now tell you truthfully that these issues with unforgiveness are a thing of the past.

About time … don’t you think?

Some people say, “time heals.” Don’t you believe it. Forgiveness comes when we make a choice. A choice to forgive. So the time piece is only applicable when we think about how much time has passed before we’ve rid ourselves of resentment and replaced it with love. We also need to confess the wrongs we’ve done to others.

Confessing and receiving God’s forgiveness makes us healthier. The apostle John says:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

God’s justice, forgiveness, and purification depend on our acknowledgement of sin, and our acknowledgment of sin brings humility to our psyche. When we humble ourselves to the point of looking at ourselves as sinful, we know that if not for God’s grace, we are capable of committing the same crimes as those committed against us.

Oh my … that’s a sobering thought isn’t it?

And yet, we read and say the Lord’s Prayer often, but do we think about, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

We forgive others, because God forgives us. Think of it this way:

If the person, who raped, killed, beat up, or hooked someone on heroin let Jesus into their life, and confessed their sin, God would forgive them.

Why shouldn’t we also forgive?

Remember the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting. Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Emmanuel African Methodist Church. During Roof’s bond hearing, “One by one, those who chose to speak … did not turn to anger. Instead, while he remained impassive, they offered him forgiveness and said they were praying for his soul, even as they described the pain of their losses.”[1] While thinking about the death sentence handed down to him in January of 2017, if Dylann Roof made a choice to follow Jesus and confess his sins, God will forgive him, but he won’t take away the consequences.

I just wonder … if when we are wronged, and we’ve made a choice to forgive, will we find solace in knowing that God’s justice will prevail?

Until next time…

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/06/19/i-forgive-you-relatives-of-charleston-church-victims-address-dylann-roof/?utm_term=.da344cc249fc

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