We recently touched on the great power encapsulated in self-forgiveness —forgiving ourselves for our raft of failures which at times of recall seem enough to drown us. (https://www.vineyard.blog/post/do-you-find-it-hard-to-forgive-yourself-285-jan-24-2021)
Forgiveness is at the centre of God's own heart. We can tell that by the mercy He's given to so many, and the fact that He prefers mercy to our offerings. Hosea 6:6 speaks of His merciful and forgiving heart "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God (himself) more than burnt offerings."
When we think about it, we prefer to accept forgiveness more often than we give it out. But if we are after the same heart as God and Jesus, it must be soft enough for the spirit of forgiveness to penetrate. It cannot penetrate a hardened heart. And for some, life has beaten them around so much they may have inadvertently hardened their hearts with each decision they made to smother hurt.
I spoke on forgiveness a couple of weeks ago at Men's Support Mission (https://menssupportmission.org.au). After the meeting, I received some interesting responses, including the unforgiveness of spouses, other family members, friends, and even government leaders and departments
For the Christian, Christ gives us a responsibility to forgive. Yet He knows how hard forgiveness is for the human heart. With God, all things are possible (Mark 10:27). Despite the difficulty of it being the opposite of what we want, forgiveness washes our hearts clean of poison. It gives us a refreshed frame of mind. How? It removes those heavy burdens of the pain of disappointment and rejection we've carried around forever.
One teacher of criminal studies said, “Life is ten percent what happens to you, and ninety percent what you do with it.”
When we've been hurt or have hurt others, it only accounts for a very short part of our lives, yet seems to rule much more than that. It affects a lot of our lives. Every time we think on those events our heart is in turmoil and often bitterness. We don't need that, do we? Wouldn't it be better to think back, and be able to say "oh, well? Thankfully I've managed to get past those thoughts."
I noticed the word forgiveness is broken down into three smaller words, all with special meanings.
Fore = At the front Give = freely transfer the possession of Ness = state : condition : quality : degree The quality of forgiveness is at the forefront of our belief. We hold the power to forgive and can transfer that freedom to others at will. It underpins Jesus' comments in His Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:14-15 "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." He was speaking to a mixed multitude, many of whom had been hurt and also been guilty of hurting others. Otherwise, He wouldn't have said it. People in that group had suffered the barbs of comments and actions and given some out themselves. In that same humbling speech, He said "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7. Jesus was showing them and now us the foundation for living a peaceful life. How long would the world last if nobody forgave others? We have plenty of reasons not to forgive, but none of them are as great as the Cross. Some things we struggle to forgive others for are personal slurs, racial slurs, we've been victims of beatings, molestation, family violence, a bank swindle where we've lost money or property, fierce arguments, business partnership gone bad, marital break-ups, even political extremes these days. When we forgive, it's still hard to forget. It's easy to forget smaller things, but a major trauma in our lives will be very difficult if not impossible. That doesn't stop us from forgiving. We just pack the incident(s) away in our history as something that occurred and we don't let it control our future. I've had to do just that—learn how to receive forgiveness as well as forgiving others, and of course, forgiving myself for my own blunders.
Here are some quotes of fake forgiveness.
“I was wrong, but you were too.”
“I’m sorry about it, but it wasn’t my fault.”
“If I’ve been wrong, forgive me.”
It’s a lot easier to say “I’m sorry about…” than “I was wrong.” And easier to say “Please forgive me” than to ask “Will you forgive me” and wait for the answer. We can turn this poison on its head and be role models in forgiveness, rather than victims of our own unforgiveness. As the quote says, Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you. Today's prayer: Dear Lord, please help me forgive. I have held grudges and pains I know you disagree with. Thank you for your mercy, but help me get them out of my heart. I want to be free of the burden and the ugly feelings I get when I think about some events that hurt me. I never thought I could forgive, but I think I can now.
Photo by Karsten Winegeart