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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Emancipation by Forgiveness

My grandfather used to say “Remember that forgiveness is not for the offender, it is for the offended.”

For many, forgiveness is a tender subject.  Why? Well, to begin a discussion about forgiveness, it will inevitably resurface feelings associated with someone’s offense.  Whether you are the offender or the offended, forgiveness is the key that will unlock the cell and loose the emotional chains that unforgiveness uses to bind you.  Let’s face it, at some point everyone will need forgiveness, because none of us are perfect.  The challenge arises when we forget that, with God, forgiveness is not merely recommended, but required, and the measure that you give to others is what will be given to you.  When you learn to truly forgive, you realize you freed a prisoner, only to find that the prisoner

My grandfather’s statement is a consummate reminder that once we understand the power in forgiveness, we can learn to master our enemies, our circumstances and ourselves.  I once asked my grandfather “what does it mean to forgive someone?”  His reply is still the basis for my definition of forgiveness to this day.  He said “when you allow God to avenge the wrong someone did in His time and in His way, you have forgiven them.”  It was amazing to me that he didn’t say that you forget what happened or that the hurt feelings go away or that you allow the person to regain a position in your life.  It is about releasing the need to be somehow a part of their revenge.  Whether you desire is to be the catalyst, facilitator or the audience to the retaliation for what someone did, that jealousy for revenge is what keeps you bound to the offense.  If you are bound then you are controlled and if you are controlled, that means something has power over you. 

So is there anything mastering you?  If so, how long are you going to allow that person or event to have control?  When you harbor unforgiveness – sure, you may move on, but you don’t have control, the feelings are merely suppressed.  It is not realized until you have to again face memory of the offense.  God knows this concept all too well and I am convinced that it is why he tells us through Paul in Romans 12:19 that “…vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord…”  Forgiveness is so important to God that He requires that we forgive others so that He can forgive us and as mentioned earlier, at some point, we will all need forgiveness.

Considering these words, I strain to understand why anyone would not want to be free from the captivity of unforgiveness.  Maybe they think that it is a sign of weakness or maybe they don’t want to face it and hope the painful feelings just go away.  Truthfully, it takes courage, maturity and strength to forgive.  Mahatma Ghandi once said “the weak can’t forgive; forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”  Listen, no one is saying that forgiving is easy, on the contrary it is difficult many times, but there is truth in the old saying “either forgive it or relive it.”  My prayer for you is that you grasp the power of forgiveness and when needed you have the strength to use it to break the chains that bind.  Forgive your friends, forgive your enemies and don't forget to…forgive yourself.  Be Blessed.