The Healing Power of Forgiveness

By Alan Scott Published on July 18, 2016

The world has become an angry place; in some places a dangerous place; in many situations a place of harm and damage and injury, more than many of us can remember. But we need not be talking about national or global news as we say that. Everyone experiences anger and harm and injury and loss sometimes. The Bible says to forgive (Matt. 6:14-15; Col. 3:12-15). Does that really make sense, though?

Yes.

Holding resentment towards someone else is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.

It took me many years to realize this. Far too many years. In fact, I was usually of the mind that if someone did something wrong to me or someone I cared about, I would not only not forgive the offending person, I would also:

  1. Not talk to them, unless absolutely necessary (for days, weeks, months … or forever)
  2. Try to exact some sort of low-caliber, yet spiteful revenge upon them
  3. Secretly hope they came upon bad times

I know, I was terrible. I admit it.

Thankfully, after finding faith, I also found a few other things: Compassion. Trust. And most importantly — forgiveness.

The Truth of Forgiveness

Many people assume that if we forgive others for the wrongs they do to us (or those close to us) we are in a sense letting them off the hook, when perhaps they should be punished. The offender gets to go on their merry way through life, while we still suffer because of their actions. I almost felt like if I forgave someone, then I was condoning the wrong that they did!

Not so. Forgiveness, not vengeance, is our necessity. God is the true judge, not us.

God doesn’t just ask us to forgive others, he commands us to forgive others. It’s not an option. God is certainly not foolish, callous or capable of ever being wrong. He can’t be. He’s God. When He commands something, it’s because it’s for the best — for us, and for everyone involved.

God knows that by allowing ourselves the freedom to forgive and forget (yes, you heard me right, forget too), we not only find peace, but we are saying in essence, God is the only judge in all things.

We may not have committed the same crime that we’re upset about, but we’ve committed other crimes, haven’t we? Unless you’ve found the elusive fountain of perfection, perhaps?

It’s OK to be upset when hurt. It’s OK to call someone out on something they’ve done wrong. It’s OK to tell the other person that what they did was hurtful. But you still must forgive. It is necessary.

By not forgiving, you’re essentially stating, “Yes, I’ve committed my own crimes, perhaps crimes that are different, or maybe even the same — (maybe even worse!), but we’re not focusing on me right now, we’re focusing on you. And you are so very wrong and awful and disgusting and completely sub-human for what you have done.” Or words to that effect, no? We’re like the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35: ignoring our own flaws; acting as if others’ sins are the ones that count.

It’s our own soul that we should be most concerned with. Our own sins and wrongdoings should displease us far more than any one else’s. Condemning, judging and not forgiving others is harmful to our own soul. We are consuming the poison of blame and unforgiveness ourselves.

The outcome bitterness, meanness, resentment, lack of trust, suspicion and eventually spiritually death. It will also affect your physical state too. If you don’t practice forgiveness, you might just be the one who pays most dearly.

Forgiveness for Our Soul

But conversely, if we concretely and sincerely forgive that person — many times over and over if need be, not only is it pleasing to God, it’s helpful to ourselves. By offering forgiveness, you also bring peace, hope, gratitude and even joy upon yourself from God.

Forgiveness is good for our soul.

Forgiveness is necessary for our soul.

Forgiveness is necessary for our salvation.

O Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

In 2010, I was in a terrible car accident. The other driver ran a red light at well over 60 miles per hour. It was totally his fault. I was left with many injuries including a fractured spine, and it took me months to heal.

When I lay in the hospital that first night I was angry and I was feeling very sorry for myself. Why did this have to happen to me? I did nothing wrong. I didn’t deserve this. He did this to me.

As those feelings started to take hold, I decided that night, I wasn’t going to drink the poison of resentment. I forgave the person who ran that red light. I started praying for him. And I have honestly never had a negative feeling about that accident since, or the person who caused it.

I have made mistakes in my life. I have done and said things that have affected others negatively. I have hurt others. I still make mistakes today. Who am I to not forgive another person for something they have done wrong to me? I know I certainly hope to be forgiven when I make a mistake, whether it is a minor infraction, or a “Big Alan Mess-up.”

Make forgiveness part of your daily life. You’ll be glad you did.

 

First published at Grow In Virtue. Used by permission.

 

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