BY TONY ROSS
Forgiveness hurts. In fact, in light of human nature, it maybe more difficult to forgive a wrong than to deal with the pain of what was done. We learn to cope, simply taking our pain and shoving it in a dark corner, never to see the light of day. We carry on with brave faces and pretend everything is all right. It is necessary to venture beyond this. Despite the discomfort, we must truly forgive, regardless of the circumstances.
This is often more easily said than done. Yet forgiveness is a Scriptural command; there are no options. It is a serious matter, based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” It is possible to defeat the entire work of Calvary in our own lives based on a grudge held against another. Unforgiveness, from a spiritual standpoint, can be fatal.
Why the emphasis on forgiveness? Simply put, we all need it. There is no exclusive list of sinners; we are just as guilty as any murderer or terrorist. No one requires more forgiveness than any other. Sin is sin; there is no first, second, or third degree, and the end result is clear. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) In the eyes of God, our guilt ranked with the worst of sinners. But Jesus Christ, God in flesh, allowed Himself to be nailed to that wooden cross as the only perfect sacrifice and made the
atonement for our sins, extending forgiveness to all. Our Lord has made provisions for forgiveness. Who are we to refuse the same?
Unforgiveness, left unchecked can be fatal, not only to us, but to the ones we hold the grudge against. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:15).Envision, if you will … In one hand we hold a number of nails. In the other hand, we hold a hammer. With each angry word and embittered action, we drive a nail deep into the spirit of our enemy, slowly, but surely, killing it. We justify everything in our thirst for vengeance, determined
to return in equal measure the damage done to us, and secretly rejoice in our enemy’s suffering. Yet the damage does not stop there. Every nail is driven again into the hands and feet of our Lord, Jesus Christ, tearing flesh, splitting bundles of muscle and sinew, subjecting Him again to the agony of the cross and the sins He had already forgiven. Through unforgiveness, we crucify the Lord of the universe afresh and push away our own salvation … all in our petty search for vengeance.
It is time to lay down our handfuls of nails. We gain nothing in crucifying our enemies after our Lord has already forgiven them; in fact, we stand to lose everything. The battle is not ours. The Lord is ready to mete out His judgment at a time and place of His choosing. Our part is to love our enemies, bless them who curse us, do good to them who hate us, and pray for them who persecute us. (See Matthew 5:44.) This is far better than endangering our salvation … all for the sake of a handful of nails.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)
THIS MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY MICHIGAN DISTRICT NEWS, SPRING 2002, PAGE 10. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY PURPOSES ONLY.