By Onuabuchi Chiamaka
‘Forgiveness, is it relevant and why?’
“…And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11: 25) NIV.
‘Try forgiveness’ is a phrase we hear so often in our everyday lives, which has caused most to overlook the weight of the simple word ‘forgive’. To Forgive according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is to ‘cease to feel resentment against an offender’ in other words, letting go of the feeling of pain, anger, and hurt and allowing love to fill that hollow space. As simple as it is to type out this definition and explain it, there is no denying that the weight of the word ‘forgive’ can cause the feeling of emotional turmoil in most of us. I have always believed that different circumstances bear different levels of weight, as we can say different offenses require different punishments. If such is the case, shouldn’t we agree that some persons should not be forgiven? as their offenses against us have exceeded what we could forgive?
C. S Lewis stated that “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Perfectionism is a growing trait in most, however, we fail to realise that we have been designed to make mistakes and are bound to hurt people whether intentionally or unintentionally.
As Christians, we believe that our lives on earth are temporary and hope to spend eternity in God’s Kingdom. But to reach our goal we have to purify our souls and hearts to be void of anger, pain, and hurt and focus on love. Most of us have hurt people in diverse ways yet our Father in heaven has forgiven us and embraced us into his loving arms. 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.” We call God a merciful father because he is ever forgiving.
The Bible makes us understand that we ought to imitate Jesus who even at his death prayed for our forgiveness “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34 NIV). When Jesus died for our sins on the cross of Calvary, he took away our pain, our anger our resentment and replaced them with love. Why then should we burden ourselves? Whitney Nichols says “refuse to entertain yourself with things Jesus went to the cross for” let us then chose forgiveness rather than carrying the weight which Jesus already took away from us. Let us accept that we are not perfect, as Christ accepted us for who we are and chose to forgive us. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Forgiveness is such an important part of existence as it does not just cleanse our spiritual lives, but it affects our physical life. The Mayo Clinic staff provided various ways in which forgiveness can affect our physical and emotional health positively. By forgiving others we allow ourselves to let go of the metaphorical clog in our throats. We embrace freedom from anxiety, stress, and hostility. We embrace healthier relationships and improved health systems. We allow ourselves to grow stronger because the battle which held us back has been won by Christ. We free ourselves from depression and strengthen our hearts. We allow ourselves to fully heal from the loss and pain.
It is true that when we forgive, the pain and anger may not go completely, but by choosing to forgive, we have taken the first step to heal, to cleanse our souls, and most importantly we have allowed the freedom to enter our lives. The freedom which is found in the true Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus our Lord. In the words of Corrie Ten Boom “forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
I pray for you, that as you have read this short message on forgiveness you will be able to let go of resentment and chose love. I pray that God will strengthen you and fill your heart with his love.