Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times."
—Matthew 18: 21-22
Why are we hung up on our hang ups? Why can’t we forgive as we are forgiven? Injecting forgiveness into a person’s spirit is a generous gift to offer when a person has treated you unfairly. The true power, however, is when a person forgives without being asked to forgive.
Oskar Schindler said it best in the movie Schindler’s List—“It is better to forgive than to kill—that is true power.” In other words, it’s more powerful to let life live by forgiving, than to take away life and spirit at will. Someone once said, “Luggage is for losers.”
Refusing to forgive can be unnecessary luggage that weighs down our heart and spirit. The words, “I forgive you,”—whether they are said to someone else or whether they are uttered to our own selves—are like removing an overfull backpack from our shoulders.
Sometimes we harden our heart against forgiveness and our life feels shriveled. The fullness and brightness God intends for us is shrouded by the anger we harbor inside. Yet, it takes far more energy to conceal anger than to release it. One of the ways we experience that release is through the spiritual practice of forgiveness.
It truly is a "practice," because we will need to do it again and again. Our souls may need to forgive the same person not just seven times, but seventy-seven times. As we engage in the practice of forgiving others and ourselves, we let go of the burdens that are weighing us down and can feel instead the presence of God very near.
Gracious God, help me let go of what keeps me bound up and weighed down, so that my heart may fill with joy.
Copyright ©2009 Cleophes Carter, Jr.