Forgiveness is a desirable quality of the brave. The weak cannot forgive. No matter how hard they (the weak) try to forgive, they will always end up in the arms of unforgiveness. Get this profound truth from me, anger gives a deceptive appearance of being powerful, but leaves us feeling frustrated and powerless. The advantages of forgiveness outweigh whatever ‘sweet revenge’ we think we will get by bearing grudges. Forgiveness appears weak, but leaves us feeling stronger and less vulnerable to others. In forgiving, you become great. The Ex-president of the republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, is considered as one of the greatest men on the planet earth, due to his ability to forgive. Mandela was sent into prison for 27 years, by the apartheid white government. He was separated from all his family members and friends. He spent the better part of his life in prison. This is a man under normal circumstances should not have forgiven, but he has been able to forgive his white oppressors and formed a reconciliatory government with them. Unforgiveness could have turned him into a beast and not a hero. Forgiveness makes you a great person!
Forgiveness is a choice we make through a decision of our will, motivated by obedience to God and His command to forgive. Forgiveness cannot be coerced, but can only be given freely. Each of us has the power to do so independent of others. It is a choice, and it is within our control. By not forgiving the person who wronged us we continue to inflict the pain they caused on ourselves. Anger links us through a negative bond with the person we cannot forgive. When we are not able to forgive, the other person remains haunting our thoughts. A single memory or sight of them can throw us off balance or spark an addictive response. By refusing to forgive them, we are controlled by them as we would have been if we had never left their side. Forgiveness leads to release from being controlled negatively by the image of them that we have internalized.
In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Mathew 18:23), Jesus gave us a clear picture about forgiveness. It is about a servant who owed his king ten thousand talents and he could not pay him back. The king was kind, compassionate, and forgiving to his servant, regarding what the servant owed him. That same ungrateful servant turns around to another fellow servant, who owed him a little, and put him in prison until he pays him the debt in full. So when the king heard what happened, He called the ungrateful servant and scolded him, then sent him to be tortured until he paid all that was due to the king. Then Jesus made this stunning declaration: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:32-35). We become victims of the seeds we sow. Sow unforgiveness and you will reap unforgiveness. We pray “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 How can we ask God to forgive our faults, iniquities, and all our wrong doings, and at the same time we turn around and hold grudges in our heart against our neighbor and do not forgive him? One who is unwilling to forgive after he has been forgiven is viewed disdainfully by the God of heaven (Matthew 18:21-35).
The Prodigal Son, also known as Lost Son and The Running Father, is one of the parables of Jesus, which points towards total forgiveness. It appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament, which is the Gospel according to Saint Luke. In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a parable of a man who has two sons. The younger son asks his father to give him his portion of the family estate as an early inheritance. Once received, the son promptly sets off on a long journey to a distant land and begins to waste his fortune on wild living. With time his possessions got finished and he found himself in dreadful circumstances. He took a job of feeding pigs. He became so destitute that he even longed to eat the food assigned to the pigs. This young man finally came to his senses, in humility, he recognized his foolishness and decided to return to his father and ask for forgiveness and mercy. The father, who had been watching and waiting, saw his prodigal son approaching from a distance. The father then did something that was, at that time, culturally surprising. Normally, a father would wait to be addressed by the son and to receive some indication of respect before even responding. This father didn’t wait. The Bible says in Luke 15:20, “…he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The son began pleading for forgiveness:
“And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” (Luke15:21).
He was overjoyed by the return of his lost son that he didn’t wait to hear the rest of his son’s pleadings. Immediately his father turned to his servants and said to them:
“Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:22-24
This is a beautiful picture of what total forgiveness is all about. It is about forgiving people who have hurt you before they even repent and ask for forgiveness. Don’t even wait for them to apologize. Let the love of God in your heart, not an apology from those who wrong you, be your inspiration for forgiving their faults.