Forgiveness isn't something that you do for the sake of the person who wronged you. It is something you do for yourself. I don't forgive people because they deserve it, or earn it, or even ask for it. I forgive them for a very selfish reason.
The main purpose of forgiveness is to free yourself from the burden of the pain inflicted on you. Bitterness is a cancer that'll destroy you and your relationships. As a pastor of a Church, I've witnessed this root of bitterness defile so many things that a person holds dear.
I knew a woman that held so much pain and bitterness against a person that she had literally made herself sick and physically weak. If she could forgive the person that had wronged her, she'd be able to release the burden of that pain and the bitterness.
The truly tragic thing about a grudge is that it hurts you more than the person you hold it against. In many cases, the other person is unaware of your grudge or the depth of your grudge or even of the fact that they may have hurt you. So your anger, bitterness, and pain are only hurting you. It is only destroying your own spirit.
Christians are supposed to be big on forgiveness. I should know. But even they miss the main purpose of forgiveness. It isn't to pretend that the wrong done to you is okay. It's not so that you can give some offender a pass on his wrong, or to pretend you weren't hurt or angry. It isn't even to demonstrate how holy and righteous you are. It is to release that anger, to release the burden of the pain that you carry around.
Jesus told Peter to forgive people until it became instinctual or habitual. He, being the Son of God, had much more clarity in this than we do. But the example suffices to demonstrate that unless we forgive, we have a human tendency to carry a grudge, to carry bitterness, to carry the burden of pain. This burden crushes you, not the person who hurt you.
Forgive people. Do it for yourself so you can function in life, see clearer, and not have to live with the painful burden of bitterness.
Don't look at the other person to determine if they are worthy of your forgiveness. It's not an issue of worthiness or even of relevance. It is about you releasing anger, pain, and bitterness. Carrying such a burden will affect your marriage, your friendships, your family, and every other relationship you possess. Your revenge plotting twists your mind more than it makes the person who hurt you suffer.
Let it go-for your own sake.
Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.
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