In life there is a time in which you will seek forgiveness whether on behalf of yourself or to forgive someone else. Forgiveness is a word that comes with a level of unease because to forgive is to exonerate or drop all charges of a person’s guilt. It is the remission of an act that was deemed to be criminal or within violation of your personal feelings.
In today’s society, it is has become common place to seek revenge, rather than to extend a hand of forgiveness. The world today has continuously transformed into an arena that is full of those who remain in coldness, apathy, and a disposition that is unforgiving. It is a well taught doctrine which suggests that it is easier to harbor anger and resentment, rather than forgiving those who have an alt against you. However, the missing nugget of truth is that to remain in an unforgiving state, is to commit damage unto yourself and others.
Rather than choosing not to forgive, you and I should portray a life that is consistent with the principle of “love thy neighbor as thyself.” If we love ourselves, then we will treat others as we would want to be treated. This means, that if we want to be forgiven for the wrongs we commit, then we should forgive others. There are at least two benefits to forgiving others and even forgiving yourself:
1. Forgiving others releases them to be free – When you walk in forgiveness you no longer bind others to the harm or crime that they have committed. Freedom comes when we are allowed to escape and shed the past that should be left behind us. If you have chosen not to forgive someone, then you have essentially held them to what was, rather than letting go to move on with your life. Also, you are putting into practice the principle as stated above. You are extending grace and forgiveness to someone, despite their actions. It is a powerful message for anyone to say that they have forgiven someone even when an act can be seen as unforgivable. As difficult as it is, to know that you have forgiven someone speaks to your willingness to make peace with the person and with the past. In the event that you reach forgiveness, you may even salvage or maintain a relationship with the guilty.
2. Forgiveness releases yourself to be free – Not to forgive, can lead to bitterness which is destructive at its core. When a person thrives in bitterness, it becomes unpleasant to exist in their presence. A person that is bitter has a tendency to lash out in anger and resentment which leaves little room for positivity and grace unto others. However, when you have had the courage to forgive others, then you are free from the chains that you were bound by. Forgiveness isn’t just for those who have trespassed against you, but it is also for you to find freedom. Being free means that you are able to leave every negative act against you, in your past. It then brings peace to your mind, body and soul rather than travailing in stress and anguish. Sometimes, you may need to forgive yourself for things that you have done. The most important thing to remember is, that you are precious. There isn’t anything that you have done that should cause you to remain in solitary confinement. Not to forgive yourself over a matter, leaves you in bondage to what you have done. We have all made mistakes and committed acts that we might consider to be unforgivable. However, forgiving yourself takes courage and it will take an intentional effort to release yourself from what you have done.
When you are standing at the crossroads of a matter that involves forgiveness, ask yourself the following question:
“If I made a mistake that caused pain to someone else, would I want to be forgiven?” Most if not all of the time, the answer to that question will be yes. This goes back to the principle of loving your neighbor as yourself. Seeking to extend forgiveness to the one who caused you pain or an inconvenience, is the same as acting in a manner that you would want to be treated. This shows love for yourself and for others, and it shows that despite the unfortunate circumstance, you made the difficult decision to drop the charge against the guilty. Since you yourself were once guilty, it is beneficial to forgive someone else. When you do, the cycle of freedom can continue through you which then moves throughout the lives of others.