Have you ever had someone come to you and sincerely apologize? Maybe they had said to you words that were so hurtful, perhaps they had gossiped about you, and you found out? A relationship and someone cheated on you, or maybe it’s a friendship that ended badly. I recently had a conversation with a friend who had just forgiven her dad for walking out of their lives when he was young. As he went on to give me the details of his story. I was curious to know what had led him to that point.
“I had to let go of this burden Mordecai,” He said, and he held back tears. His eyes were shining with tears in his eyes, and he let the smile take over as he hugged me.
This week, I received a text from a friend who felt that I had offended her. I had continued with my life not knowing how much, although well-intended, my words had deeply hurt them. After a long five minute pause, with my mind crafting all the answers I could respond to, I realized I had to choose between trying to explain myself or just apologizing. Justifying my words felt right. I thought the person had misunderstood me and my human desire was to explain. Upon further reflection, I choose the latter- to apologize.
So I responded, “Thank you for letting me know. It was not my intention; I am sorry and will not do that again.”
The magic words,” I am sorry,” have been magical because of the peace I have experienced this week.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.” And I wonder how many times we swallow the poison, killing us on the inside and sometimes affecting the outside. We then become angry and bitter towards others while the real enemy is from within. I do reckon that there are real emotions that we carry, bitterness, anger, and hatred towards others, but this always weighing us down.
Forgiveness is an important topic that addresses our emotional and spiritual well being. It can be very difficult, easier said in words, but extending an actionable response can be tough, and yet, it is a huge and central part of the Gospel and the hardest part for us.
In the Bible, Peter stands up and asks Jesus how many times forgiveness should occur. According to Jewish tradition, if a one had sinned against another three times, you were to forgive them, but the fourth time, there was no forgiveness. In this context, Jesus responds to Peter, saying, “ I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” A hyperbole that Jesus invites Peter to live a continuous life of forgiving. Jesus then goes on to tell a parable about the unmerciful servant. Matthew 18:21-35
He tells the parable of a king who had pity on a servant and forgave him for his debts. The servant went out and choked a fellow servant demanding his debt despite his begging. He had forgotten the forgiveness he had received from his master. The master called him and handed him to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back. In the same manner, we have been forgiven by God through his son, who died on the cross for us. And like the unmerciful servant, we tend not to forgive others. The story ends with Jesus saying, “this is how my heavenly Father will treat each one of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Friends, I extend an invitation to you to forgive others no matter what they have done to you. It’s not only for the other person, but for yourself. It’s a process of healing and restoration. Therefore, call someone today, text or email someone today asking for forgiveness or forgiving them. I would also invite you to forgive yourself because at times, we are our enemy. My prayer is that as you begin to forgive, you will experience joy and peace and you will walk in confidence as a child of God who is fully forgiven.