Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Forgiving Those We Despise

Maybe “they” have harmed us directly, and the memory is too great to ever get over. Or, perhaps “they” have hurt us indirectly by injuring someone close to us, and the suffering we witness is too tormenting an experience to ever let go.
For this topic, I must borrow heavily from others today, summarizing as I go: First is Steven Furtick:

  • Forgiveness: It would be easier to hold a grudge, but Christ was clear that we have an obligation to forgive… just as we have been forgiven. With this issue there is often much push back from those who say they can’t get over what has been done to them. I remind them that the Bible doesn’t say we must forget, but to forgive. There’s a huge difference. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we should allow an open door for continued abuse. The goal is to free our hearts by letting go of the anger, bitterness, and frustration with the person who wronged us.
  • Forgiveness won’t take the pain away. However it does releases the hold those emotions continue to have on our heart. Holding bitterness too tightly causes a range of negative emotions, and has even been shown to result in physical pain and anxiety through repeated exposure to the remembered stress.
  • Forgiveness gives something that is undeserved. This is the picture of God’s loving grace for us that we have not earned, and regularly miss because it is both too simple and complicated to understand. Yet is so beautiful to behold!
  • The emotional weight of an injury is often heavier than the actual injury and takes longer to heal. When a person forgives another, it feels as though pressure is released from one’s shoulders. Forgiving people have less stress and more joy, regardless of the pain in their life.
  • I know the thought of offering forgiveness makes some cringe. It feels like a risk too big to take. When you forgive, it feels you are inviting further injury. Yet when we refuse to forgive it is usually because holding onto it gives us some sense of power or control, but I wonder if Christ ever feels likewise…


Would You help someone you couldn’t forgive?


In the movie titled, The Interpreter, we are told the story of a tribe in Africa which believes that the only way to end grief is to save a life.

If someone is murdered, after one-year of mourning is a ritual called

“the Drowning Man Trial”.

After an all-night party, the next morning the killer is taken by boat out in the water and dropped in, arms & legs bound so they cannot swim.

The family of the victim has the choice to let the killer drown, or they can go out and save him.

The tribe believes that if the family lets the killer drown, they will have justice, but the remainder of their lives will be spent in mourning. However if they save him, admitting life isn’t always just, it will end their sorrow.


“Vengeance is a lazy form of grief.”

I cannot count the number of times I have felt hurt and wanted to lash out and retaliate for justice or revenge. But when I have done so, the pain doesn’t subside like I want it to. Instead I am left anger, bitter, confused, and still in pain. However, when I have stopped and refused to lash-out physically, or speak in a hurtful manner, l find the healing in my own heart begins. And sometimes, I sense the other person’s regret, and then their healing begins as well. Later, we can bask in the forgiveness that Christ has taught us, and the love He shed through blood on the cross for our sinfulness.

To begin healing, learn to practice forgiveness.

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