Sep 01, 2020 66 0 Antony Kalapurackal

Why Should I Forgive?

Ever wondered why we need to forgive those who hurt us? Forgiving is tough; read on to know how it can be easily done.

Beyond the Limits

If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15)

As Christians, all our hope solely depends on one thing— forgiveness from God. Unless He forgives our sins, it is clear that we could never make it to heaven. Thank God for being a loving God who seeks reasons to forgive His children. He wants to forgive our sins, regardless of their severity and number. We simply need to acknowledge the wrong we have done, ask His forgiveness and willingly extend that forgiveness to others! So, we are writing an exam with a leaked question paper! Yet, most of us are struggling to fulfil this minimum criterion!

With our sinful nature, unconditional forgiveness is beyond our capacity. We need Divine Grace to do it. However, our purposeful choice and willingness to take steps are important. Once we take these steps, we will start experiencing the Grace flowing from Him.

So, how do we do our part? One thing we can do is seek reasons to forgive. Here are some of my reasons to forgive.

Why should I forgive?

Answer 1: Because I deserve a healthy life

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you!—Lewis B. Smedes

Modern research has accepted what Scripture taught very long ago—the need to forgive! Forgiveness reduces anger, hurt, depression and stress and increases the feeling of optimism, hope and compassion. Forgiveness reduces hypertension. People who are forgiving tend to have not only less stress but also better relationships, fewer general health problems and lower incidences of the most serious illnesses–including depression, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Here, my focus is on my own wellbeing. Life is a gift from the Creator, and it is my responsibility to live a good life. Unforgiveness prevents me from enjoying a quality life. So, I need to forgive.

Answer 2: Because God wants me to forgive

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you— C. S. Lewis

This is very straightforward. I choose to forgive because God expects it from me. My focus is to be obedient to God. I depend on His Grace to try to forgive.

Answer 3: Because I am not better

There is no one who is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10)

In this approach, the focus is on my sinful nature. I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. What would my response be if I were in his / her place? Many times, when we let go of our self-justifying thoughts and start meditating on occasions when we have hurt others, we start realizing that we are not better than others. This realization will make our job easier.

Answer 4: Because God has been using those hurtful situations for my good

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)

In the book of ‘Acts’, we read about the execution of Saint Stephen. Just before the execution, Stephen saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God! While the mob was stoning him, Stephen prayed for his executioners, asking God not to hold their sin against them.

Here we see another key element that could help us to forgive others—knowing the reward! Stephen saw the glory of God. After experiencing that, I believe that Stephen desired to be with God at the earliest moment. So, it might have been easier for him to forgive his persecutors as he could see them as the people who were helping him to reach his final destination sooner.

It is a human tendency to think only about the negative consequences of a previous hurtful incident. We might be surprised if we purposefully stop thinking in that way and start counting the benefits we received because of those incidents. For example, I might have lost my job because of the dirty politics of one of my old colleagues, but that is what led to me successfully apply for a better job! I can also count non-material benefits. Those incidents might have helped me to grow in my spirituality, or might have made me a stronger person and so on. Once we start realising this, it will be much easier for us to forgive those who hurt us.

Answer 5: Forgive him? For what? What did he do?

I will remember the sins no more. (Hebrews 8:12b)

A reason to forgive is required only when I feel the other person hurt me on purpose! If his action didn’t hurt me, the question becomes irrelevant.

Here is an incident from my friend’s life. Once he was about to go out for an important appointment wearing carefully chosen, well-ironed clothing. Just before leaving the home, he noticed his infant child crawling towards him with a beautiful smile. He immediately took her in his arms and cuddled her for a moment. After a few seconds, he felt wetness on his shirt and realized, with a shock, that the baby was not wearing a nappy. He was very disturbed and expressed himself angrily to his wife.

He changed his clothing and hurried out. On the way, the Lord started talking to him.

“Did you forgive her?”

“It was her fault… she should have been more responsible” he grumbled.

The Lord repeated the question, “I meant, did you forgive your child?”

“Forgive my child? For what? What does she know?”

On that journey, the Lord opened his heart to understand the meaning of ‘forgiveness’ in the divine dictionary.

Remember the prayer Jesus prayed on the cross; “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”. (Luke 23:34)

Ideally, we need to forgive as Jesus forgave, but this can be achieved only with abundant grace from the Lord. What we can do is to decide to forgive and raise our sincere desire to heaven. We are not short of reasons to forgive. Let us take these baby steps and ask the Lord to help us.

Dear God, I realize how deeply Your beloved son loved me that he came down to earth and went through unimaginable pains so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows through His wounds in spite of my faults and failures. Help me to imitate Jesus by loving unconditionally even those who hurt me. And to experience the compassion that comes by truly forgiving. Amen

Antony Kalapurackal

© serves in the Editorial Council of Shalom Tidings. Antony lives in Brisbane with his wife Vinita and children Abiel, Ashish, and Lucina.


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