To Forgive, Or Not To Forgive; Is It Even A Question?
Since the beginning of mankind, we have undoubtedly been making mistakes, for which we have needed to be forgiven. It's not always easy, I know it's not, but we need to be able to forgive one another and there are some good reasons for that.
We all love the idea of being let off the hook for something we did wrong. That's not to say that we have been freed from all consequences of our actions, but that we are free from the guilt of the mistakes that we have made, and are able to move on.
However, we don't always want that same feeling for others when they have done somethings wrong, do we? We want justice, retribution, and for things to be made right. When we accept forgiveness for ourselves, but are not willing to forgive others for what they have done, we make ourselves out to be hypocrites.
Nobody likes a hypocrite, right? Nobody likes a person who doesn't practice what they preach. That is exactly what we are when we are willing to accept forgiveness from others and from ourselves, but are unwilling to offer it to others when they have made a mistake.
What Happens When I Don't Forgive?
If we allow our thoughts and our actions to be controlled by our emotions and our feelings, things can quickly become out of control, and regrettable actions usually take place.
When we become unwilling to forgive someone else for something that they have done to us, we are actually enslaving ourselves. We harbor thoughts of anger, resentment, bitterness, hate, and even sometimes; revenge. However, it doesn't stop there. When we harbor thoughts on a consistent basis, we are that much more likely to actually act on the thoughts that we have.
Now instead of just being enslaved by our thoughts, things start to get really out of control when we take matters into our own hands; we open our mouth and say some things that shouldn't be said, we try and turn other people against the person we now hate, we try and inflict personal injury to that person or that persons family and friends, or we may even go so far as to try and end that persons life.
All for what?
Something was done to hurt us in some way, and we couldn't get control of the situation. We couldn't get control of our own feelings and actions. We became a slave to hate, or bitterness, or something else, and we acted out.
If revenge was taken in some way, then the person that you hurt back, is now going to want revenge on you. It may not seem right, but it doesn't matter who started it because only hurting matters at this point. You have probably seen it all in movies, or may have even been through it before in your own life. It never ends. That is, until we are able to forgive and let go of the hurt.
When we don't forgive, it never ends, and pain thrives in this condition.
Look at Things Again
Take a look at the bigger picture, or step outside of yourself and view the situation from another perspective.
Do you even realize what is going on in the life of the other person involved?
Has anything good come from the situation thus far? If not, something still could.
The person whom you may hate, is a person just like you. That person deserves whatever you believe you deserve. That person is someones child, someones friend, possibly someones parent, or someones spouse as well.
Look at the situation from that persons point of view. What are they going through? What are they feeling? What is really happening is their life?
Chances are, that person has moved on and is living their life, while you remain a slave to your feelings.
What Happens When I Do Forgive?
Being able to forgive means that you are willing to free the person who hurt you from the guilt of what has been done. You are not freeing them from the consequences of their actions, that is not possible. You are freeing them from guilt, and freeing yourself as well, from unwanted feelings that will accomplish nothing for either side.
Once you have forgiven someone, it becomes water under the bridge. It's gone, it's done, and it's not coming back up again. Each person is able to move on and deal with the resulting consequences, without having to be submitted to bitterness, anger, resentment, or hatred of any kind.
What happens when someone doesn't accept my forgiveness?
When someone does not want to be forgiven, you can still forgive them for what they have done to you, which will still free you from those unwanted feelings and allow you to go on with your life. Forgiving your enemy will also do more than anything else you can probably come up with.
King Solomon, the son of Kind David, was known as the wisest person to ever live because God filled him with more wisdom and understanding than any other person in the world. This is what Solomon had to say on the subject:
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you. -Proverbs 25:21-22
You will heap burning coals on his head? Naturally your enemy expects you to be his/her enemy. When you act with forgiveness and love, your enemy will most certainly take notice, and will not like the position you have taken. Your enemy will know that you are the better person, and that you are willing to do what it takes to make things right.
However, it's not all about being the better person, but being free to live your life, and allowing others to do the same.
Always remember, God forgave us even though we were like enemies to Him, and He asks us to do the same, each and everyday. (Romans 5:10, Matthew 6:14, Acts 13:38-39)