Time to extend forgiveness

BY RHONDA GOULD

Sun Columnist

Where in today’s world do you see forgiveness needed? Where in your community would forgiveness be warranted? How in your home does forgiveness need to be given?

Do you know that there is a not-so-well-known misconception about what forgiveness is?

Matthew 18:35 says, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” 

In verses 23-35, it tells a story of a king who was calling all of his servants to him so that their debts could be paid. One servant came to him and was not able to pay. The king ultimately forgave this man his debt. But then what happens might confuse you.

The servant then went out into his village and found a fellow servant who owed him money and insisted that he pay up. The king heard of this and he was angry. The king said, “You wicked servant”, I forgave you your debt, could you have not had the same compassion and then had him put in jail. 

The king extended forgiveness to his servant. He felt compassion towards him yet that same servant refused to extend it to others. Well, you see where that got him.

There is also a better known story in Luke 23:34, where Jesus is hanging on the cross and cries out, “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus came to this earth because God knew that we would need a Savior. We would need someone to be our guide. We would need someone to cover our sins. God knew that Jesus would also intercede for us, “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book, “Mere Christianity.” talks about the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He says those words sound all nice and good but what we have to ask is, “How do we love ourselves?” If we don’t love ourselves with a Godly love, then how are we to love our neighbor as God would? If I’m not loving myself as God loves me, then I’m also not understanding the forgiveness that God extends.

The misconception concerning forgiveness is that it is for the one being forgiven. Although that can be a blessing to the one who did the wrong, in reality forgiveness is for the one doing the forgiving. If we carry unforgiveness in our heart, it will eventually start showing in our actions. 

Bitterness will take over our hearts. We will be bound in chains of resentment, depression, sadness and anger. Only the act of forgiveness in our hearts will release us from this bondage. Some believe that forgiveness always includes reconciliation and that also is a misconception.

Even the Mayo Clinic has something to say about forgiveness: When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

It’s been proven that carrying around things such as anger and resentment can have physical and emotional effects on your body. A whole list of issues can arise.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

In what ways are your carrying around unforgiveness? It could be as minor as an unkind word or as severe as abuse of some type. It could be unforgiveness that has been carried down from your ancestors or something that happened to you directly. It could be from something that happened on the other side of the world or something right in your own neighborhood.

Regardless of where or how the event happened that caused you to have anger and resentment, the effects are the same if you do not let it go. There are resources available where you can find information on this topic of forgiveness or effects of unforgiveness. I know that there are resources within your own community where help to move past the anger and move into forgiveness can be found.

Lysa Terkeurst, in her book, “Forgiving what You Can’t Forget,” shares that we need to know that our forgiveness doesn’t mean that what happened is OK.   

Walk with me as we all strive to be more like Jesus and ask, “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.” If there is someone that you need to forgive, pray to God to help you. It may not happen overnight and the sense of anger my want to creep back in. So I say, keep praying.

Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Rhonda Gould is a life coach, For more, go to www.rhondagouldonline.com