One of the strangest things we do as humans is the act of forgiving other people. It is also one of the more powerful things we do. Forgiveness can be a confusing thing, but mostly it is empowering. Chances are, you will have to choose to forgive someone for something today. What is forgiveness? Webster says that to ‘forgive’ is to “give up resentment of or claim to requital (compensation),” Basically to forgive is to let go of a debt someone owes you, and the associated feelings that come with the debt.
We have a sense of justice. God put that in us. It is powerful, and actually helps to keep the world in order. When someone does something wrong to you, they should repay you. God has laws, and we have laws to enforce justice. Making things right is what we do, right? Well, yes. Forcing someone to pay for a broken window is a way of being fair to the owner of the window, and a way of making sure people don’t go around breaking windows all the time. When you forgive, you aren’t saying that the window was never broken, or that it has no value, or that it is alright to break windows. You are simply saying that you are not going to let a broken window define your life, or the life of the person who broke the window. When you forgive you are saying that it is more important to move forward with broken windows than with broken lives.
When I was a child my brother would sometimes do things to me that were wrong. I didn’t like it at all. That was my toy car. He shouldn’t have taken it. And he certainly shouldn’t have wrecked it. I was initially upset. My mom would step in and enforce justice, telling him to apologize to me. He would say, “I’m sorry.” Usually I would immediately say, “Don’t worry about it.” I could see the judgment hanging over his head. The car was messed up. I was messed up. And now my brother was messed up. I couldn’t fix the car. But I could fix me, and I could open a door to fix my brother. By saying, “Don’t worry about it,” I was telling him that I valued him more than the car, and even my right to receive payment for the Hot Wheels. I wouldn’t let that brokenness control me, and I wouldn’t let it define our relationship. And I also knew that I would want forgiveness when I hurt him. Frankly, that is easy to do with a $1.00 toy… but not when you are a child. The principle is true at any age, and with any hurt. The only thing harder that offering forgiveness is holding onto unforgiveness.
If you are a Christian, you have already been forgiven of more than you will ever have to forgive in someone else. Those who forgive well, live well. Today, when you forgive, you are not saying that justice doesn’t matter. You are saying that your peace matters more than justice. You are saying that people matter more than your right to payback. You are saying that evil will not control your destiny, because your ability to love is stronger than another’s ability to destroy. The apostle Paul, a man who was forgiven much by people he hurt greatly wrote this, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
Forgiveness won't necessarily change your relationship with the other person. Remember, forgiveness is a bridge between where you are and where peace is.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.