Why Forgiveness Is So Important
How Forgiveness Can Set You Free
Forgiveness is "the act of excusing a mistake or offense. Compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive." (The Free Dictionary by Farlex) These are powerful words that each of us can find doable. We are all imperfect and make mistakes. The author Charles Henry beautifully expressed how "Forgiveness is the only way out. Forgiveness offers us the opportunity to free the world from our own condemnation of it. We are given opportunities to practice forgiveness of others until someday, we feel free enough to forgive ourselves." Think seriously about how profound that statement is. Forgiveness evolves into the freedom of ourselves. It develops from within each individual. We make the decision to forgive others to help ourselves. When we hold onto resentment and hatred, it becomes pain within us. The person you have decided not to forgive may be moving on living their life. In the meantime, you are stuck with the thoughts of how and why you still dislike them. Lewis B. Smedes stated, "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."
A few years ago a discussion was held about Michael Vick, a previous quarterback for #Philadelphia Eagles football team. He was convicted for illegal dog fights which he sponsored. Vick went to prison and served time for this mistake. Due to a lack of forgiveness, Michael Vick was unable to own another dog. Two individuals discussed this issue, and they felt he should never own a dog again. They compared Vick to a child predator. The question was asked, "Would a child predator who was found guilty, be allowed to be around children or have children again?" They concluded that similarly, Michael Vick should not be allowed to own a dog again. How sad to think that we now can use such innocent victims as children and dogs, to imprison ourselves and others from the freedom and beauty of true forgiveness. By creating victims, we can maintain "the right to be angry." This anger holds us hostage and we become the prisoner. Catherine Ponder expressed it this way, "When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free."
By not practicing forgiveness, we relinquish the outstanding gift given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Through the undeserved kindness of Jehovah and his son, "He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13,14, The Holy Bible Revised Standard Version) We desperately needed this sacrifice in order to cover our trespasses against others. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14,15 ) This warning comes not from man but from our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus. We cannot use innocent victims, as an excuse not to practice forgiveness. Our forgiveness must harmoniously become like a pardon of the offender, "as if the offense had not occurred." We must attempt to be "ready to forgive" just as Almighty God and his son Jesus, set the example for us to follow.
The confinement of Imperfection limits our true abilities to be forgiving. But we can gain true freedom by asking for help through prayer so that we can apply the principles of the Bible. Research can also help us as we read the thoughts of other imperfect individuals, who struggle with the practice of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a source of strength for us. Mahatma Gandi explained, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." This strength we receive through forgiveness can allow others to grow as well as ourselves. Remember, number five of The Seven Pillars of Forgiveness. It is explained as, "Enhancement" where "Forgiveness teaches us to stand against the wrongful act or offense, not the human life that has committed it, else we deny another their future opportunity." The article went on to finally address "Continuance" as number seven, "In the exercise of forgiveness is the longing for the establishment of what ought to be, and the love of this as an inner devotion is connected to the love of life continuing."
Through forgiveness, we can grow and set ourselves free. If each individual practiced forgiveness, words like hatred, revenge and a lack of love would not exist. What a loving provision to work toward daily. Forgiveness not only helps others but it nourishes our growth as well. For additional information and support on how to practice forgiveness, go to www.jw.org
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