Sunday Devotional: Forgive

Colossians 3:12-17

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones,
holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you,
so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do,
in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

water garden
Over the course of the last year, my parish church has become increasingly liberal (not that it was ever conservative). In the requests for prayers after the priest’s homily, there is much talk of “social justice” — praying for “justice” this and “justice” that. Never once are we asked to pray for the murder of innocent unborn. Never once are we asked to pray for forgiveness or even for God’s mercy.
Robert Enright quote
The streets of America reflect that self-righteous demand for “justice,” with endless and often violent protests hectoring about “justice” for Trayvon, for Michael Brown, for Eric Larson. Their “justice” turns out to be more about revenge than about what is right.
Thick Nhat Hanh quote
Researchers again and again have found that forgiveness is not just good for the recipient, it is also good for our own physical, mental and spiritual health.
The best definition of “forgive” I know is to refrain from wishing ill to the person who has hurt you, but instead wish him/her well. Don’t nurse the grievance and let it fester inside you.
But to forgive doesn’t mean to forget, for if we forget, we are simply setting ourselves up for a repeat of the offense. Nor does forgiving means we must approve of the offender or the offending act. Nor does forgiving means we must continue the relationship because sometimes the offense enables you to clearly see who that person really is. As a result, you simply no longer desire to be in his/her company.
Psychologist Everett Worthington has developed some techniques that prove useful. One of them is the two-chairs technique. Someone with a grievance sits in Chair A and addresses a real but absent offender sitting in Chair B, telling him how he feels. The subject is then asked to move to Chair B and respond as the offender might. Sitting in the offender’s place to explain why they acted as they did, the offended subjects are forced to think “outside the box,” to put themselves in the other’s place, perhaps seeing for the first time circumstances they had previously overlooked. This can open the way for seeing both sides of the story, and, eventually, to forgiveness.
How forgiving are you? There’s a 33-question quiz you can take to find out. Click here.
You may be surprised by the result. (Like you, I struggle with feelings of being hurt by others, with anger, with forgiveness. I was quite stunned that my quiz result was way on the far right end of “More forgiving.” I can only attribute that to God’s grace and infinite mercy.)
Our Father
May the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, be with you,
~Eowyn

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0 responses to “Sunday Devotional: Forgive

  1. Excellent, I agree wholeheartedly. If we are struggling with something someone has said or done to us, it sure helps to get understanding of their situation. Hurt people tend to hurt other people. “In all your getting, get understanding.”
    Blessed and happy Holy Days, and a Christmas day that was merry and bright to all at FOTM.

     
  2. Thank you, Dr. Eowyn. We will never have peace with the Father if we don’t forgive. As you show, the most important prayer in Christendom, the Our Father, places forgiveness at the center.

     
  3. You are so right about people praying for “social justice” in our churches, if they only knew how hard it must be for God to withhold His Justice from us. We as a country deserve the wrath of God for all that we have turned a blind eye to, the most horrible of which is abortion. As far as forgiveness, yes, it’s required of us to forgive over and over again. It’s hard at times, especially when someone has hurt us deeply but I always try to remember that those that say unkind things are really in pain themselves and their thoughtless words mean nothing.

     
  4. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this important and meaningful post. This brings to mind what Jesus said upon the cross, after he was viciously tortured in ways so unspeakably horrible, that we cannot imagine what kind of suffering He experienced: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We must follow His example of mercy, compassion and love.
    We must also pray for our enemies and wish the best for them. We do this daily with our list of petitions before we pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet in front of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
    And, any suffering that we experience as a result of the misdeeds or sins of omission of others, should be offered up to Our Lord. If we can, we should ask Our Lord to help the people who have hurt us so that they will come to Our Lord. It is only when they come to Our Lord will they truly know what they have done, and hopefully, account for their actions and ask for forgiveness from others.

     

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