posted on Aug, 23 2020 @ 01:46 AM
Deep, deep subject. And one well worth placing on ATS.
I have struggled with forgiveness all my life. In my younger days, I was well-known for being able to hold a grudge. Forgiveness, I thought, was for
It's not. The weak are those who cannot forgive.
I've been taken advantage of many, many times in my life. I have now forgiven those who took advantage of me. But what is forgiveness, really? My
Bible tells me to forgive others when they ask for forgiveness. Not everyone who has harmed me has asked me for forgiveness. Some never can; they are
dead. So why and how can I really forgive someone who has never asked for forgiveness?
When Jesus hung on the cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." No one there was asking Him for forgiveness; almost
everyone there was mocking Him. Those who were not mocking Him, were not involved with crucifying Him. Yet He forgave His accusers.
As a Christian, I am to look at the example of Jesus to live my life in a way pleasing to God. Therefore, I am to forgive those who harm me... but how
far does that forgiveness go? Should I forget what they have done? No... I doubt Jesus has forgotten what was done to Him. However, Jesus wished those
he forgave no harm. His prayer was that they not be held accountable for their actions against Him. I cannot forgive, then wish any ill to come to
those I forgive. That's not forgiveness. I can, however, avoid those who have harmed me. I can (and have) banned people from my property... people who
I have also forgiven. I wish them well, but I do not wish to deal with them.
Now, should someone repent of their ways and come to me asking for forgiveness, I am required by the teachings of Jesus to forgive them. That absolves
them of any guilt for anything they have been forgiven for. If they turn around and harm me again, then we're back to square one... I forgive them but
I do not absolve them. I can also keep a close eye on them to ensure their request is genuine. Forgiveness is not forgetfulness.
For example, suppose someone I know comes to me and asks to stay with me for a while because they have become homeless. Suppose I agree. Now suppose
that they stay with me for six months and then I discover that they have been selling off my tools without my knowledge. Additionally, since I am
human after all and not Jesus, suppose I do not bury them in the back yard, and instead just kick them out. I will usually, again because I am human,
take a few days to calm down and then forgive them. That means I give up any and all thoughts of harm toward them.
Now suppose they come to me a year later and tell me they are sorry and ask for forgiveness. I will forgive them; I have already forgiven them once,
so this time is easy. I will never bring up what they did to me after that. However, should they then ask to move in with me again because they are
again homeless, my answer will not be yes. At this point I do not know whether or not their request for forgiveness was sincere. Maybe after a few
more years of knowing them, if they demonstrate honest behavior towards others, I will again trust them... but trust must be earned. Trust is not the
same as forgiveness.
There is one thing I have learned, and I hope those who read this post will take this lesson to heart: a grudge is the heaviest thing in the world to
carry. Remaining angry at someone does not hurt them; it hurts the one who is angry. If anything, holding a grudge against someone who has wronged
one, as a Christian, is the worst thing one can do to themselves and the best thing one can do to the one who wronged them. "Vengeance is mine, sayeth
the Lord." By forgiving those who wrong, they become the target of God's justice, not yours.
Yes, I have seen this happen many times. I have seen people actually die early, slow, painful deaths who wronged me and who I then forgave. And I
mourned them, because I did not wish them ill. I prayed for their recovery. That is the hard part where too many people miss the mark: if you
forgive someone so "karma" or "Gods justice" or whatever one wishes to call it can harm them, it does no good! You have not truly forgiven them
because you are still wishing them ill.
As a matter if fact, as I aged I began to look back on my actions in young adulthood, and I saw many times where I wronged others. Perhaps they
forgave me and my health issues are the result of that. If so, I accept God's judgement. Maybe carrying around all those grudges so long ago finally
caught up to me. If so, que sera sera, it is what it is.
I will say this: if I had a chance to do things over, that is the one thing I would change. I would forgive others much easier instead of holding
grudges. I believe my life would have been far easier on me had I done so.