Today I read yet another blog post about forgiveness, and given the propensity for us as human beings to offend others and to be offended by others, it seems a pretty good subject to discuss.

Although I can already guess what your response will be, how many of you have endured one or more mildly annoying on up to gut wrenching offenses that you just can’t seem to get over, or put past you so you can move on with your life?  Making things worse is the fact that that person, persons, or situations may have seemingly sailed on in their lives to bigger and better things–promotions, relationships, success, etc., but you are stuck in the past, remembering every last gory detail of the offense in living color and dolby surround sound!! Where is the justice??

I too have had people in my life that seemed to “suck” the life out of me as I headed for what now might have been considered a “mini” nervous breakdown.  I knew I needed to forgive them, because that is the right thing to do, but they were so….difficult to deal with and impossible to reason with that I had a hard time doing what I knew I had to, in order for me to remain “sane”.

Fortunately, God has helped me to understand that forgiveness is NOT forgetting and letting by-gones be by-gones as we often think it is, but rather a purposeful choice to “let the other guy go”.  I had to make a concious choice to not hold them in bondage in my heart and mind, but release the pain and resulting memories to the Lord.  As long as I continued to hold that person and event close to me, thinking about it often, verbalizing it to myself and others, building upon it, and making it bigger that it really was initially, I would forever be bound to them.

God showed me that this negativity produced toxins emotionally and spiritually which would eventually infect every area of my life like a venemous poison.  I would become increasingly more bitter, resentful and hateful.  Every relationship would suffer, in one way or another, and my body would suffer consequences as well.  I submit to you that many of our illnesses today are a direct or indirect result of the unforgiveness we harbor in our hearts!

Obviously, it seems that walking in forgiveness is the best way to go, but how do you get to where you can do that consistently?  Realistically, I don’t think you can, in and of yourself.  Forgiveness is not a “natural” human endeavor, since we are sinful by nature and pretty self-centered. I believe you need a little Heavenly assistance in order to achieve complete forgiveness, especially for some of the more intense atrocities that have been committed against individuals in our insensitive and hostile world nowadays.  I’m speaking of rape, murder, incest, etc. in particular.

However, it is not impossible.  A determination to have peace at all costs is a prerequisite.  A willingness to give up the pride is another. (I think PRIDE keeps us from doing a lot of the things God wants us to do in order to live free, and forgiving is just one of those areas that hangs us up.)  Another requirement is the willingness to allow your “prisoner” to leave, to be free.  Even free enough to let God deal with him/her however He chooses to.  (Of course, your “prisoner” has no idea they are in your jail because they are out there livin’ large! Unknown to them is how much you hate them and how many hours and days, weeks and months you think about what they’ve done to you!)

So, basically, forgiveness is not about them at all!  It’s about doing what’s right and doing what is ultimately in your best interest.  It’s not really even a selfish thing either.  Forgiveness makes you a better person, saves relationships (even if you never see or talk to that person again) because you have a healed heart, and helps to keep you physically healthy all the way around.

But, the most important aspect of forgiveness, one that I cannot emphasize strongly enough, is that it pleases God.  After all, He sent His only Son to take on mortal flesh so that He could show us how to live–pure and free.  Then, He laid down His life, on purpose, to die in our place and thereby ensure that we could receive God’s forgiveness for our sins, which are so much more abhorrent than any offense that we could possibly endure in our lifetime!!  If God can forgive us, through Jesus, we can and must forgive other sinful beings that offend us in some way.  It’s not an option really, it’s a command–one that holds great freedom and peace for those who will obey.  Jesus is our Ever Living example of Forgiveness.  He will show you the way, if you are willing.