Introduction to Forgiveness
Introduction to Forgiveness
One of man’s greatest powers is his ability to make choices. As we look at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden we see the choices that they made that impacted humanity today. We continue on down through time and Joshua’s plea to the children of Israel, and Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost down to our present time. Some of our choices are good, and some of our choices are not so good. Each of us can choose to trust God or to depend upon ourselves when we are experiencing adversities in our life. And as we look into the book of Job and we see his three friends making the accusation that Job’s sin has caused his problems. And even today we see people making the statement that sin brought a calamity. For example when Katrina hit New Orleans we heard people say that because of the sin of New Orleans God brought this calamity. So we see that mankind has not changed since the days of Job. There are very few people in this world today that have not suffered some sort of adversity in their life. The great questions of our time are: “Can I trust God?” Or “Is God trustworthy?” Many of us have asked these questions or similar questions as we have experienced adversity. God desires for you to spend eternity with Him.
As we look around our society today we see a world full of hate and unforgiveness. You cannot turn on the news without viewing the hatred that is in our society today. What we are going to do in the next few weeks and months is present the difficulties of being a forgiving person versus someone that is unforgiving.
A quote from Spurgeon: “To be forgiven is such sweetness that honey is tasteless in comparison with it. But yet there is one thing sweeter still and that is to forgive.”
We must choose forgiveness. The weeds of bitterness and unforgiveness are cultivated at a great price to our health. When we choose to hold on to our grudges, we relinquish control of our future. When we refuse to forgive it is like taking arsenic it is a poison to our bodies. We trade the freshness of the new day and all its possibilities for the pain of the past. Quite often we waste precious mental and spiritual energy brooding over someone who may be far away and totally unaware of our thoughts, or perhaps totally unaware of what happened, and certainly totally unaffected by anything worth thinking or doing. When we refuse to forgive an individual that has hurt us deeply we affect our future health.
Someone has described unforgiveness as the accumulation of unexpressed anger. Because it is denied, it can often be ignored, while all the time it is building like an invisible tumor. The effect to stuff our hearts below the reach of conscious memory is like trying to hold a fully inflated beach ball in the water. The slightest shift in pressure and off it goes, shooting off out of control. Each of us has real life stories that we are unable to see the joy of forgiveness and the bitterness of the long time resentment that we have held. There are no formulas or simple answers. But if you are looking for the reality and beauty of biblical forgiveness you will find it in God’s word.
On June 18, 2015 an individual full of hate and unforgiveness goes into a church (Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church) and killed 9 members of the congregation. The history of this church goes back to the 1800s and its involvement in an effort to free Blacks slaves may have been the motive for the attack. The relatives of the people slain inside the historic African American church in Charleston, S.C., were able to speak directly to the accused gunman at his bond hearing his first court appearance. One by one, those who chose to speak at the bond hearing did not turn to anger. Instead, while he remained impassive, they offered him forgiveness and said they were praying for his soul, even as they described the pain of their losses. “I forgive you,” Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, said at the hearing, her voice breaking with emotion. “You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her again. I will never, ever hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul.”
This must have been very emotional for those members of the church who had lost their loved ones. I don’t know that I could have forgiven him, if he had shot one of my children or grandchildren or wife. We are commanded to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ. There was a group of individuals that had hung our Lord and Savior on the cross and He stated “Father forgive them”. Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. One of the most important things that we must remember is forgiveness is a choice.
Who do you need to forgive?