One of the most interesting topics treated in systematic theology I&II is “FORGIVENESS.” Forgiveness is a divine gift that we receive from God – it is difficult for us as humans to forgive, whereas it is one of God’s attributes Exod. 34:6-7 “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. ..NIV” Forgiveness is beautiful and lovely when we get that from someone we err. For example, we become free and happy when we understand that God pardoned our sins. If receiving forgiveness is good and beautiful, I want to believe it is more beautiful when we offer it to our transgressors. We are asked to forgive one another whatever the cause; “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another….” Col 3:13.
What will be the beauty of forgiving someone who offended you? I will want to discuss this in bullet points:
· When we forgive, we attract forgiveness: In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus, knowing the importance of forgiveness, mentioned; “forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors” – this simply means that; the only access to God’s forgiveness is offering forgiveness. If there’s anything we need from God first, it will be his mercy (forgiveness) – we get this mercy not by anything we offer to God but by our ability to offer forgiveness to one another. Isn’t this beautiful? Matt. 18:23
· Relationship grows when we forgive: Paul in his letter to Philemon, plead with Philemon to forgive his servant and accept him back, this time not as a slave alone but as a brother;
I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him — who is my very heart — back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. Philemon 10-16 (NIV)
Philemon will now have a dual benefit on Onesimus – first as a slave and second as a brother. When we offer forgiveness we tend to build a bridge that will cover the gap between us and the offender, we gain respect from that fellow and good relationship is assured.
· We may win them to Christ when we forgive: I watched a video on Facebook of a young black boy who offer forgiveness to an officer who killed his brother – these are his words to her;
I don’t want to say twice or for the hundred times how much you’ve taken from us, I think you know that. But I hope you go to God with all the guilt, all the bad things you may have done in the past each and every one of us may have done what we aren’t supposed to do. If you truly are sorry, I know; I can speak for myself; I forgive you and I know if you go to God and ask him he will forgive you. And I don’t think anyone can say it (again I’m speaking for myself not even on behalf of my family) but I love you just like anyone else, and I’m not gonna say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did, but I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t gonna ever say this in front of my family or anyone but I don’t even want you to go to jail, I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what both of us want you to do and the best will be to give your life to Christ. I’m not gonna say anything else, I think giving your life to Christ will be the best thing that both of us want you to do. Again I love you as a person and I don’t wish anything bad on you.
He requested to give her a hug and the Judge granted his request. The officer wept so hard, and I believe she will do as he requested “give your life to Christ.” This is the beauty of forgiveness.
· We do more good to ourselves when we forgive: Ann Christine Recine. DNP, a nurse practitioner who studies forgiveness said that; “forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.” Of course, forgiving someone who really hurt you is harder than it sounds, but in a real sense when you forgive, those nagging, negative thoughts will go away, and research shows you will most likely experience less fear, anger, and depression, not to mention improve sleep, less physical pain, better cardiac function and increased life satisfaction. Isn’t this beautiful? Looking at these medical benefits, why should we withhold forgiveness and ruin our life.
Finally, forgiveness is a process over time that includes letting go of negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and replacing those with positive thoughts, emotions and behaviors toward the offender. However, moving forward doesn’t mean letting someone off the hook or minimizing a wrong. Forgiveness is not releasing the offender for legal obligations. Forgiveness is to simply decide to stop focusing on blame and instead move forward in a more positive direction.
Saved by Grace