Unforgiveness is like drinking posion and expecting the other person to die.
My dad was the most forgiving person I have ever known.
Maybe that is why he whistled and smiled all the time.
I can remember as a small boy watching as church leaders would knock on our front door and invite my dad outside for a talk. A little while later he would return and mom would say, “do we have to move again?”
You see dad was a pastor of small country churches. He loved people and was faithful in helping them any way he could. But he also refused to compromise, therefore, he spoke the truth in love. The problem it seems was most people loved their ways more than God’s Word. So dad would occassionally hit a nerve and they would respond. But with God’s help he would forgive quickly and move on.
Forgiveness. It can be such a hard thing to do, but is liberating to the soul. What makes it difficult for most people to do, is the way we define it. We think of forgiveness as meaning that we should say all is forgotten and things will go back to what they were. This Biblical definition of forgiveness is very hard for most of us to swallow. How can you forget the unforgettable? How can you forgive the unforgivable? To enjoy the benefits of forgiveness, however, we needn’t go that far. All that’s really required is that we make the decision to move forward, to let go of the offense and the hurt and release the individual(s) from what they did. We don’t have to condone what’s been done. What’s wrong is still wrong. We don’t have to invite the person back into our lives or even become best of friends. What we must do is allow ourselves to release all the negative emotions associated with that person.
As long as we hold on to the pain and hurt, we are choosing to allow that person’s past actions to continue to hurt us, therefore developing bitterness. We must choose to let go and stop allowing them to hurt us. This is an understanding of forgiveness that’s more doable for those who feel they are less saintly.
I once read and made note that the inward component of forgiveness consists of enjoying the sense of emotional relief that comes when the burden of a grudge has melted away. The outer component involves extending one’s attitude of goodwill and mercy outward to others.
Sometimes the public expression of forgiveness results in reconciliation whereby the relationship continues on as before. Sometimes it doesn’t, and in certain cases it is inadvisable. But if I truly from my heart have forgiven them and released them, then I can move forward and experience as well as enjoy the benefits of God’s forgiveness toward me.