Have you ever had a life-changing event? Beat cancer? Stroke? Loss of a parent? Loss of a child, or having had to endure your child’s suffering? A war veteran? Heart attack? Broken heart? Divorce? Survive an accident that is nothing short of a miracle? Seen an accident firsthand that not everyone survived? I can relate to several of those, and maybe you can too.
Some events like those described above change us for several months. They give us a different perspective or greater appreciation for what we have and those close to us. We realize things could be much worse and are thankful for the health of our family and friends.
Some events change us for years. A different perspective, greater appreciation, yes, but some events give us a greater understanding that life is finite; some might call it an epiphany. We tend to love a little further, hold a little longer, encourage and sacrifice a little more. The small stuff is not such a big deal, and we easily extend grace to those around us.
Then we have the events that change us for life. Sure, we have a greater understanding that life is fleeting and love those around us more, often extending grace, but you also realize the significance of forgiveness. You come to understand that forgiveness is the change we experience that goes beyond a change within. The change is so consuming, so occupying, you want to help others understand, help them see and experience what you have. Acts 4:13, Acts 13:46-48
God’s kingdom is nothing like our world. The world looks at our successes; God looks at our sacrifices. The world tells us to be in the spotlight; God tells us to step to the back of the line and put others before ourselves. Bob Goff wrote, “Love was never meant to be transactional. It doesn’t give to get. It doesn’t create spreadsheets to analyze how well it’s working. It doesn’t track how much Love you put in and measure it against how much Love you got back.” 1 God’s kingdom tells us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31 The world tells us we deserve it! We have the right to, we are entitled to, and should reward ourselves. In other words, we deserve the best life now as Joel Osteen puts it.
Sometimes the greatest sacrifice we can make is forgiving someone who has hurt us; Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 23:34 or asking them to forgive us for hurting them. I chatted with a friend not long ago who shared her experience of asking her ex-husband for forgiveness for divorcing him (and having good reasons for doing so). His first response to her was no, he could not forgive her, but then he said he understood why she left him. For her, this was a necessary step for her own healing. In other stories I have heard, this action would be unrealistic, unwise, or unnecessary.
Nevertheless, forgiveness is vital to the health and well-being of individuals. “…practicing forgiveness can alleviate feelings of anger, avoidance and vengeful-ness that lead to negative consequences in one’s emotional and physical health as well as relationships.” 2 People need to be able to forgive themselves and forgive others. Jesus’ final words were about forgiveness.
What would you want your last words to be? Accusation, condemnation, guilt, or Love, forgiveness, and understanding? Someone said that holding a grudge (unforgiveness) is simply cultivating anger. Forgiveness allows us to move on without anger or contempt or seeking revenge.
God wants us to be with Him, but to do that requires our being forgiven. Some call it the free gift of salvation that Christ offers. Lately, I have been looking at it more like a rescue than a gift. The whole reason Jesus came was to give us an out, and I know that almost sounds demeaning, like an ace up your sleeve, but Christianity, unlike any other religion, offers the gift, the rescue, whatever you want to call it without works. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, you name it, works is required. Look for yourself, and you will see that with any other religion, you have to sign on the dotted line and work for your assurance.
God forgives and offers that through His Son Jesus. You simply have to decide if you want to, or need to be forgiven. If you are honest with yourself, you need to be forgiven, we all do. It is not a scale (like a teeter-totter) where your good outweighs your bad. If you want Jesus to step on the scale, you can’t add enough bad to lower your end; He takes it all. It is a rescue.
Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free. – Stormie Omartian
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. – Confucius on revenge.
Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. – Corrie Ten Boom
A Rescue by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
- Goff, Bob. “Love Doesn’t Have A Return On Investment.” Live In Grace, Walk In Love. Nelson Books, 2019, pg. 68
- Ryan P. Brown, Vengeance is mine: Narcissism, vengeance, and the tendency to forgive, Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 38, Issue 6, 2004, Pages 576-584