When do we forgive? When is it timely for us to forgive? Do we forgive even though we may not be healed? Maya Angelou, the African American poet, talks of forgiveness this way: "It is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive."
She also talked of love and forgiveness this way, "You can't forgive without loving. And I don't mean sentimentality. I don't mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, 'I forgive. I'm finished with it.'" What did she need to forgive? A rape at an early age (eight years old) and growing up in the Jim Crow South, overcoming adversity at all levels.
Forgiveness of others and Angelou mentions forgiveness of self.
I've known several professional grudge holders in life, among them my own mother. We could be talking about an event that happened in 1975, with it being 2005, and she could instantaneously generate more anger about that event now than may have even been present then. Forgiveness. Letting go. Letting go means healing. Healing means moving on.
Jesus instructs us on forgiveness frequently, perhaps most meaningfully while on the cross. In Luke 23, he looks at the crowd, casting lots on his garments and mocking him, and asks God to "forgive them." "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." (34)
That simple? But I don't deserve forgiveness, we may say to ourselves. "What they did doesn't deserve forgiveness," we may say. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us," he instructs us in the Lord's Prayer.
Forgiveness of self and of others is that first step toward healing.
While it may be difficult at times, we pray that we follow Christ's example and that forgiveness be instantaneous. We pray that Christ give us the capacity to release the anger and hate that can be generated towards ourselves or others when we feel as though we have done wrong or been wronged. Finally, we pray that forgiveness start the healing process.
We pray for that "peace of God that passes all understanding."
Hope Men's Ministry