My Greatest Lesson Learnt—Forgiveness
Life is full of surprises if I am willing to learn new ideas. I understand that modern science states that the brain is fluid and plastic. Not rigid and fixed as was believed formerly. It can be changed even in old age.
Young people who are victims of physical, psychological or emotional abuse naturally react with anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, revengefulness and un-forgiveness. This proves that they are not a robot!!! As human beings, we have feelings! Yes, we might have these ugly negative thoughts!
We can deny them, hide them or harbour them. When we do that it is like drinking poison and expecting nothing bad will happen to us. No way. Somehow or other, they will manifest themselves in some form of disease or resentment towards others. If we allow these ugly thoughts to take hold in our heart, then as Jesus said,”For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man,” (Matthew 15:19-20, NKJV).
God does not bring these hurts and wounds upon us, but once they are inflicted on us, He is able to turn them to our benefit if we will trust Him to do so. Satan intends to destroy us, but God can take whatever the devil sends against us and turn it to our good. We must believe that or we will despair!
One of the ways is to name these natural human emotions so as to accept them but not to retain them and move on to do something about them. Don’t let these negative emotions take root in our heart. When these have taken root, we have to detoxify these negative thoughts and replace them with positive healthy thoughts such as patience, kindness, generosity, praiseworthiness, mercy, compassion, love and most importantly FORGIVENESS. What an impossible task on our own effort!
But God can work miracles of healing out of all sins and negative attitude!
And for us to heal and release ourselves from the mental and emotional prisons of our past, our response must be one of forgiveness!!!
Everything in my human nature goes against this very idea of forgiveness. I don’t see how I can forgive wrongs, unless it is with God’s grace!But God gives me no option!!! It is a command from Him to me to forgive those who do me wrong. His command means that I am to obey and forgive anybody who has invaded or trespassed my rights, my territory, my comfort, my self-image, whether they acknowledge the invasion or not.
Again, I am reminded in the Lord’s Prayer, `Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ (Matt 6:9-13). And that is followed by a pretty plain statement: `If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matt 6:15, NKJV).” I am not asked to pray, `Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who ask us to.’ What this means to me is that I am to forgive the person who does me wrong. His offences (his trespasses) against me I will have to leave them to God‘s judgment! As the Lord says “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” (Romans 12:19, NIV).
When I go to God and sincerely ask for His forgiveness, God assures me that He will forgive me. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book ‘Darkness and Light.’ said, “ How can I know, says someone, that my sins are forgiven? I will give you a very good test. If you want to know whether your sins are forgiven or not, here is my test. Are you forgiving others? Are you ready to forgive others who have harmed you and sinned against you? Or look at it in another way: Does this argument of the Apostle appeal to you? As I read out these words, `Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’, are you softened in your feelings? do you feel melted? are you ready to forgive at this moment? If you are, I do not hesitate to say you are a Christian. But if bitterness is still rankling there, and if you are saying in spite of these glorious words, `But after all, I did nothing and I don’t deserve such treatment’, you had better go back and examine your foundations. I find it very difficult to see how such a person can be a Christian at all.” (A Person, who Knows he is Forgiven, Forgives, pg 285)
Forgiveness like love is not entirely an emotion. Forgiveness is a will, a choice, a decision by me to forgive.
In forgiving others:
I am FREEING myself from my own prison of bitterness and resentment.
I cancel the debt he owes me.
I choose to pardon his debt.
I decide to bestow favor unconditionally to him.
I suck out the poison in my anger and hatred.
In forgiving myself:
I let go of regrets
I don’t berate myself for missing past opportunities
I don’t whack myself for what I could, should or ought to have done
I no longer envy what my peers have achieved
There are many benefits in forgiving others. I would strongly recommend that we read Lee Strobel’s article, Forgiving our Enemies brings us Enormous Benefits19 from his book, “God’s Outrageous Claims”, “The Emotional Economics of Forgiveness” by Dr Ira Byock and “Harden not the Heart with Pride” by Fr Roland Rolheiser.
Written on 6 July 2018