Eric's Sunday Sermon; How About Forgiveness?
Another new beginning
Forgiveness should be freely given.
Let us get one thing out of the way first. While forgiveness maybe be quite important for the one being forgiven it is essential for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the one doing the forgiving. From all accounts this is true for God also if you think about it. Forgiveness is so intertwined throughout our mind body and soul that it belies any definition. Oh for sure we can find instruction on the subject and we can look up dictionary definitions but that does not satisfy our quest for understanding.
We do not see forgetting to be a necessary ingredient for forgiveness. But forgiveness helps mightily in the area of forgetting. In the ordinary it takes some real effort to forgive someone who has wronged you. Indeed it takes a willing heart and deep reflection. And it takes a certain finesse to do it without further aggravating a situation. And it is hard to actually relate that forgiveness. And there is this important notion of forgiving one’s self. Seemingly there is no easy route to forgiveness. Now there is a exception to this difficult route. If one can somehow obtain a space where love is in the heart and forgiveness is a part of that love on a continual basis then forgiveness is an automatic reflexive action. Wouldn’t that be nice? To be sure some of us are in that state of mind and heart somewhat some of the time.
What of that Biblical concept of forgiving seven times seventy? Wow, someone does something bad to you and then just persistently continues to do it and we are to forgive him every time he does it. So we notice that the real concept of forgiveness does not require any repentance (read that changing of heart and mind). That kind of makes you wonder about a concept that would say that God only forgives you if you repent. We are ordered not to require that so how much more does God not require that.
Let us look a little further into some of these notions.
How about you?
Do you practice forgiveness
Perhaps forgiveness is the finest thing we can teach a child.
I only found this song researching for this sermon. I like it.
How about these stories where a murderer of a child is forgiven by the parent of the child and actually prayed for? We can see that this is actually required of someone with the strength to follow their Lord. But I think that a big impetus in such cases is often for the healing power to the forgiving individual. Holding on to resentments and hate is very self-destructive and can actually cause physical ailments. I see nothing inherently wrong in forgiving another mainly for self-preservation. Perhaps it is not pure and optimum but it is a darn sight better than not doing it at all.
How about when you have something to do with causing the act that needs to be forgiven. It gets a little complicated here to the rational mind. But one thing is for certain. In those circumstances you had better be sure and forgive yourself first and accept responsibility. It is said that we cannot transmit something that we do not already have. I knew a Sensei once who was adamant that when we are involved in a problem we accept fault. The concept being that when we own the fault we can do something about it. If we place the blame on someone else we are powerless to create the solution. And so it is that if we accept the responsibility then there may be no need to go through the process of forgiveness.
When the act that causes a need for forgiveness was precipitated by necessity; well in that case we better hurry up and forgive lest we risk placing too high of a burden on the other. Sometimes in life we are faced with the problem of having to make a decision on action when the consideration boils down to two options and our only guide is to pick the one that will cause the least amount of harm. That is just the way of life sometimes. It is critical in such a case that we forgive quickly the person that caused harm. To not do so will cause further guilt harm to the actor. And then who needs to be forgiven?
Just hanging out at grandma's
Go ahead and hold on to your anger - if you dare.
Perhaps we can do better.
When communicating the forgiveness would harm a situation. Many times there is a situation when forgiving another and communicating that forgiveness to them causes more harm than good. In the secular world telling someone that you forgive them can appear pompous and appear to be self-righteousness run amok. That is not cool. Other times it may just serve to open old wounds that are healing with time. In such cases it would be advisable to forgive in your heart and pray for the person and then act compassionate toward them. Here are such cases where uplifting them may be more beneficial than communicating forgiveness.
How does all this work with family? Let us just mention a few possible combinations. Current spouses. Ex spouses. Young Children. Adult children. Grandparents. Young siblings and older siblings. Parents in general. In-laws. Honorary members of the family. Aunts and uncles. Cousins. And some that I missed. Well the problem here is that everyone is pretty much responsible to love our family members. That love is shrouded in the bad if there is a harboring of resentments. Shoot, resentments my stifle the love altogether. And that is a very bad thing. Forgiveness to family members needs to be a knee jerk reaction to any wrongs. It needs to be our default position. And remember that includes forgiving ourselves.
Hard to face but true.
Forgiving God – driving a wedge between your God and you. Isn’t it just a strange fact that we can hold a resentment toward God? That is a malady that we cause ourselves. I like to look at impatience/patience and how that works. First it is an if this then that proposition. If I am impatient then I got problems. If I have patience then I have less problems. Then it is a which came first the chicken or the egg issue. Am I impatient and that causes a distance from my God. Of do I distance myself from God and become impatient? The same goes for resentment and forgiveness. Do I resent God and that distances me from God? Or do I distance myself from God and that causes resentments? Either way if God does not act quick enough for me I get a resentment toward God and that needs to be forgiven right here and right now.
Forgiving inhumanity. Oh boy there are a whole lot of man caused wrongs in this world. And you know what? It really pisses me off. The lack of humanity in this world makes me take it personally. I am just plain angry at the world for how it treats the least of our brothers and sisters. What good does that do? Well a good thing is that it first makes me get off my butt and try to impact my community. For that I am thankful. But the rest of my angst is just plain destructive to me and provides no redeeming value in my life and those life’s around me. I have to pray daily that I forgive humanity for they know not what they do.
OK, some people, places and circumstances are bad or cause harm to me. But that is nothing compared to the harm I do myself and others by harboring resentments. To serve others I must be clear of these resentments and the best way I know how to do that is forgiveness.