Tony Bohrer: The power of forgiveness

I’m convinced there is power in forgiveness.

No matter if you’re a believer in Christ or an atheist, at some time in your life you will have to confront a situation and you will have to choose to forgive or harbor the hurt.

Forgiveness is a choice.

C.S. Lewis observed, “Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive.”

It’s funny how when we make a mistake, we demand the person we hurt to forgive us, but when it is our turn to be the one to forgive someone who has hurt us, we have a hard time with it.

I want to give us four myths I think people struggle with concerning forgiveness.

A survey by Barna Research Group conducted a few years back clearly illustrates the depth of misunderstanding that surrounds the subject of forgiveness.

• You cannot honestly forgive someone unless that person shows some remorse for what they did (62 percent agreed).

• If you really forgive someone, you would want that person to be released from the consequences of their actions (60 percent agreed).

• If you genuinely forgive someone, you should rebuild your relationship with that person (73 percent agreed).

• If you have really forgiven someone, you should be able to forget what he or she has done to you (66 percent agreed).

These four myths have stopped many people from experiencing the true freedom that comes when we are able to forgive someone who has done us wrong.

We have to understand that when we forgive someone, we are not forgiving him or her for them, but for ourselves.

Has someone done you wrong before and you can’t sleep at night or even eat because you can’t stop thinking about what that person has done to you?

The whole time you are driving yourself crazy, they are getting a good night sleep or going out dancing. You’re carrying the hurt, not them, so forgiving them is for you and not them.

The real issue many times is not that we can’t forgive, it’s that we think we shouldn’t have to forgive. After all, if we are the victims, why should we have to do something that is uncomfortable for us? Why should our offender be allowed to get off scot-free?

This is the essence of forgiveness.

When we forgive:

• We acknowledge that a wrong has occurred.

• We recognize that there is an obligation for repayment.

• We choose to release our offender from that obligation and to cover the loss ourselves.

Most of us have no trouble with the first two because we are expert record keepers. The stumbling block for us is the third ingredient of forgiveness.

Why should I have to suffer the consequences when there are many reasons why I shouldn’t forgive my offender?

Any time there is a wrong done, there are debts to be paid. The one doing the forgiving usually is the one who has to make the payment.

Jesus said, “If we forgive, God will forgive us.”

Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay a debt for you and I. Did He do something wrong?

No.

He was paying the price for our wrongs. When you forgive someone you are not saying it is OK for him or her to hurt you, but you are saying that you are not going to allow what he or she did to stop you from moving forward in your life.

With every offense comes a choice. We can hold on to it and become bitter, or we can release it and become better. There is so much more, but until next time, I choose to become better.

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