Thoughts on forgiveness...
Someone asked me once if I have any recurring themes in my stories, and when I thought about it, I realized forgiveness is one of my main themes - not only of my stories but of my life. In all honesty, I did not plan such a theme. But after years of holding grudges I did not know I had held, and learning that to forgive is the most important gift we can give and receive, the theme sort of naturally occurred.
That's not to say forgiving comes naturally or that it is easy. Not by a long shot. There are times forgiving someone who has wronged us takes everything we have to give. And sometimes it seems impossible. By human standards it is. But I have learned the hard way that without it, I am miserable, and so is everyone around me.
While I know how hard it is for me to forgive those who may hurt me - intentionally or unintentionally - I also have watched what happens when forgiveness is not granted. Bitterness is a root, a poison that sinks deep into the human soul, killing even the smallest acts of kindness, sucking the joy out of a life. It brings slow death to those who embrace it.
And I was thinking how perfect an example Jesus is to us, showing us how to keep that bitter root from taking hold of us.
"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." Hebrews 12:3
"When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly." 1 Peter 2:23
"...Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:2
"Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21
"And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:33-34
"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Colossians 3:12-13
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15
"And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:34-35
Forgiveness starts with God's gift to us in sending His Son so that we could be forgiven for all of our sins. Then it extends to others when we offer that gift in return to those who have wronged us. Without forgiveness we will live of life of bitter grief and sadness, a far cry from the joy and peace and love forgiveness can bring.