Quote of the Day: Forgiveness Is an Act of Will

 

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” — Corrie Ten Boom

All of us can recall times in our lives when we’ve been wronged. Whether a hurt happened to us as a child, teenager, or adult, the pain can stay with us. We may have found it difficult, even impossible, to forgive the person who harmed us. Since the pain remains, we assume we are righteous in our anger and may refuse to let go of the incident.

As Corrie Ten Boom* suggests, we might have our strategy backward: to heal, we need to make the decision, the commitment, to let go of the hurt, not so much for the benefit of the other person, but to liberate ourselves; we may never free ourselves from the memory if we wait for our hearts to mend first. Our resentment feeds the hurt; even the mention of the other person’s name can feel like a stab to our hearts. So, if we wait for the pain to vanish to offer forgiveness, we may have a very long wait.

Instead, we can make the choice to be free. We commit to letting go of the hurt, even if the memory stays with us. We also must remember that these recoveries don’t happen overnight; mending one’s heart takes courage, and may take a very long time.

Ultimately, though, if our commitment to forgiveness is genuine, we are on the path to freedom and wholeness. At times we may feel that we’ve relapsed into our anger, that meeting our goal is impossible. We just need to swallow another dose of courage and remind ourselves that we forgive others for our own healing, not because they ask us to forgive them. If they do ask us to, we will be further along on the path to redemption.

Once we commit to the “act of will” to forgive, the heart will follow.

*Corrie Ten Boom was qualified from her life experience to speak about forgiveness. For a two-minute video on her life:

.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 52 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Speaking of acts of will, participating in the Quote of the Day on Ricochet is also an act of will, although not nearly as important as forgiveness. You can join us by going to our sign-up sheet, picking a date, and then starting your own conversation based on a quotation.

    • #1
  2. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Corrie Ten Boom is one of my heroes.

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    I have seen a quote that says (possibly my own paraphrase): Men forget, but never forgive. Women forgive, but never forget. It is an interesting relationship between forgetting and forgiving. The expression “forgive and forget” is the only effective definition of absolution of which I know. The implication of the quote of I first describe is that men may overlook an offense so long as they are not reminded of it, but women never forget a sin and find it important to remind the sinner so as to prevent its recurrence. To the sinner that does not feel like forgiveness.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    The implication of the quote of I first describe is that men may overlook an offense so long as they are not reminded of it, but women never forget a sin and find it important to remind the sinner so as to prevent its recurrence. To the sinner that does not feel like forgiveness.

    It isn’t forgiveness, @rodin. And reminding the sinner of the act is a way to punish that person, not make sure it won’t occur again. To forgive requires a level of generosity that calls us not to repeatedly punish the person. If you keep bringing it up, that’s precisely what you’re doing. BTW, I’m not saying it’s not difficult to let it go.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    An example I would give of forgiveness is that my sister decided many years ago that she didn’t want me to be in her life. I went through many stages of anger, frustration and hurt, but our having a relationship was not to be. A couple of years ago, I asked her if she would forgive me for those things that she believed I had done to harm her. I know a couple of things I did over the years to upset her, and had apologized, but apparently those words were not enough to earn her forgiveness.

    I sent her an email to ask for her forgiveness for what I had done, explaining that was all I was asking for, and that I would call to get her response, yes or no. When I called her, she was glad I’d emailed first, and asked if she forgave me, what else she would need to do. I told her “nothing.” So she forgave me. 

    I felt great relief having gone through that process (in preparation for Yom Kippur). I am no longer angry with her, or even hurt. Just sad. I don’t know that the sadness will ever go away. But I’m in an okay place.

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Wrath is my sin if choice.

    If I forgive and the other is not punished as they should be, it is hard. 

    I am wronged, I have a right to be hurt and angry and the other party should be made to pay. But they are not.

    That is when forgiveness is hard. 

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Wrath is my sin if choice.

    If I forgive and the other is not punished as they should be, it is hard.

    I am wronged, I have a right to be hurt and angry and the other party should be made to pay. But they are not.

    That is when forgiveness is hard.

    It helps a little bit to know that if I forgive, at least I will suffer less. And I’ve found it does work that way. It’s just so hard, as you say @bryangstephens, to get past the initial resistance to feeling that justice hasn’t been served.

    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Wrath is my sin if choice.

    If I forgive and the other is not punished as they should be, it is hard.

    I am wronged, I have a right to be hurt and angry and the other party should be made to pay. But they are not.

    That is when forgiveness is hard.

    It helps a little bit to know that if I forgive, at least I will suffer less. And I’ve found it does work that way. It’s just so hard, as you say @bryangstephens, to get past the initial resistance to feeling that justice hasn’t been served.

    I’m not in charge of justice. But I am in charge of myself. And “myself” orients towards forgiveness.

    I can’t get my head around “forgive and forget.” And I suspect that those who claim to have done so utterly and completely are not-quite-honest. It’s hard to “forget” on command. “Forgive and let go” is much better. That makes it possible to explain, if only to oneself, and to live with, the fact that occasionally others hurt one greatly, and that even if one “forgives” them, it doesn’t mean they should be invited back into one’s life. And vice-versa. (Sorry, I know “one” is pretentious, but I don’t want anyone reading this to think that “you” means “them.” I’m talking about me and what I think.)

    Best advice I’ve ever read, or at least the most useful, on the subject of forgiveness came, as it often does, from C.S. Lewis, who does believe that forgiveness, at least in the Christian tradition, is not a choice or act of will, but a non-negotiable requirement. (As with most things in life, cognitive dissonance sounds out loud in some of the comments on my earlier post. What can I say, other than that, I forgive?)

    • #8
  9. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    I do not see “letting go” of the anger and perhaps hatred of someone who has injured an individual is actually forgiveness.

    Forgiveness has also become somewhat of a cult.

    It sometimes seems that before a person even makes out the police report on the assault or rape that has been perpetrated against them, there are people ready to ask if the victim has yet considered forgiving the attacker.

    Although I usually do not like quoting Wikipedia, I do find this entry helpful: “Wanda Malcolm, a registered psychologist, states: ‘it is not a good idea to make forgiveness an a-priori goal of therapy’.[24] Steven Stosny, also adds, that you heal first then forgive (NOT forgive then heal);[22] that fully acknowledging the grievance (both what actions were harmful, and naming the emotions the victim felt as a response to the offenders actions) is an essential first step, before forgiveness can occur.[110]”

    I did also like the section in Wikipedia that discussed Yom Kippur, as well as a discussion that in the Jewish faith, if the victims of the murderer forgive the perp, the murderer will not have to face God for the serious transgression due to having been forgiven.

    As someone who had a long standing injury committed by a relative, I realized one day that since the community involving my family did not weigh in on this injury, that it was much harder to heal. When the community embraces a victim, forgiveness is easier to come by. But when those in the family or community are blind to the injury that has occurred, to try and forgive feels like a betrayal of the self.

    I am also not sure about how forgiveness occurs when the perp has no guilt or remorse over the tragedy they brought about.

     

     

    • #9
  10. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Wrath is my sin if choice.

    If I forgive and the other is not punished as they should be, it is hard.

    I am wronged, I have a right to be hurt and angry and the other party should be made to pay. But they are not.

    That is when forgiveness is hard.

    I have a thing about forgiveness. I’m not sure I’m doing it right. So, my default setting is to let everything slide, so to speak, and pray for the person who wronged me. But it’s especially difficult to understand forgiveness when there is a quick and easy remedy on the offenders part that he refuses to do.

    My most general forgiveness (and especially “to forgive is to forget”) example is — this is going to sound gross, but — is a Dirty Harry scenario, but it happens all the time in much smaller ways. In Dirty Harry, a criminal has abducted a young woman and buried her in a box with only a certain amount of air. She dies. But what if she had food and water and the criminal provided for months of life.

    And what if he was caught? The parents come in and the criminal would say, “Oh, I have wronged you. Please forgive me!” And the parents say, “Okay, we forgive you for what you have done, but tell us where our daughter is.” And the criminal says, “Why should I? You’ve already forgiven me.”

    I think it’s Dennis Prager who said that forgiveness has five necessary components:

    1- I’m sorry I did it.

    2- I was wrong.

    3- I’ll never do it again.

    4- How can I make it right?

    5- And then, please forgive me.

    What is the place for forgiveness when the person who can make it right, does not?

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I have a thing about forgiveness. I’m not sure I’m doing it right.

    Forgiveness is not about them. It is about you.

    Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

    Notice that Jesus is asking forgiveness while they are still acting against him?

    Or there is this:

    Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…

    It is about clearing our slate. It is about not holding hate, not holding a grudge, even if it may be deserved. It is about being in this world, but not of it, of knowing that human beings hurt each other, but getting over it and learning the lessons of life.

    Put down the burdens you carry. They are not yours. Let God deal with these trespasses.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    I do not see “letting go” of the anger and perhaps hatred of someone who has injured an individual is actually forgiveness.

    Forgiveness has also become somewhat of a cult.

    It sometimes seems that before a person even makes out the police report on the assault or rape that has been perpetrated against them, there are people ready to ask if the victim has yet considered forgiving the attacker.

    Although I usually do not like quoting Wikipedia, I do find this entry helpful: “Wanda Malcolm, a registered psychologist, states: ‘it is not a good idea to make forgiveness an a-priori goal of therapy’.[24] Steven Stosny, also adds, that you heal first then forgive (NOT forgive then heal);[22] that fully acknowledging the grievance (both what actions were harmful, and naming the emotions the victim felt as a response to the offenders actions) is an essential first step, before forgiveness can occur.[110]”

    I did also like the section in Wikipedia that discussed Yom Kippur, as well as a discussion that in the Jewish faith, if the victims of the murderer forgive the perp, the murderer will not have to face God for the serious transgression due to having been forgiven.

    As someone who had a long standing injury committed by a relative, I realized one day that since the community involving my family did not weigh in on this injury, that it was much harder to heal. When the community embraces a victim, forgiveness is easier to come by. But when those in the family or community are blind to the injury that has occurred, to try and forgive feels like a betrayal of the self.

     

     

    @caroljoy, thank you for your heartfelt comment. First, I would have you look at @arahant‘s comment #11; I think he addresses some of the issues you raise. I also want to add the following: first, nowhere do I say a person should forgive another; that decision is up to each individual. I would also say that the wounds they cause can be so terrible that you may choose to never forgive them. That is entirely up to you. When I see that a person has lost a loved one and almost immediately forgives the perpetrator, I worry that they are subconsciously trying to avoid grief; that does not work. I also personally question if genuine forgiveness can happen so quickly, but that’s my take. If Wikipedia makes that statement about Yom Kippur, I don’t think it’s accurate or perhaps you misunderstood. If you can remember where you found it, I’d like to check it out.

    I am also not sure about how forgiveness occurs when the perp has no guilt or remorse over the tragedy they brought about. Since the person murdered cannot forgive the perpetrator, that person cannot forgive him or her. The family technically cannot forgive the murderer on the murdered person’s behalf.

     

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Yeah I know it is for me.

    And I Know I don’t get to administer justice.

    And I am a sinner and I want to see those who persecute me suffer 10 fold.

    The one solace is that most rotten people suffer a lot internally. 

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    I have a thing about forgiveness. I’m not sure I’m doing it right.

    Forgiveness is not about them. It is about you.

    Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

    Notice that Jesus is asking forgiveness while they are still acting against him?

    Or there is this:

    Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…

    It is about clearing our slate. It is about not holding hate, not holding a grudge, even if it may be deserved. It is about being in this world, but not of it, of knowing that human beings hurt each other, but getting over it and learning the lessons of life.

    Put down the burdens you carry. They are not yours. Let God deal with these trespasses.

    I understand what you’re saying. But I’m not talking about bearing a grudge or harboring hatred. I’m talking about the existence or not of unconditional forgiveness. And I just don’t see that in the Bible. But I may be wrong.

    Certainly, forgiveness serves one primary purpose: to free a debt from someone as an act of mercy; helping the victim feel better, may be a good consequence, but it is not the purpose of forgiveness. Someone wrote that extending forgiveness for one’s own comfort cheapens forgiveness. (And it probably undermines justice, too.)

    But simply, I’ve never seen forgiveness granted without repentance. And I was wondering about it all.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Flicker (View Comment):
    But simply, I’ve never seen forgiveness granted without repentance. And I was wondering about it all.

    Let’s say that someone did something terrible to you. Immediately afterward, he walked out in a street and got hit by a truck. He never repented. Should you hold to the trespass against you for the rest of your life because he never repented?

    Now, let’s say a similar scenario, except that immediately afterward, he disappeared from your life. You will never know if he repented, whether he lived a good life or lived in anguish, etc. Are you going to carry that baggage around with you for the rest of your life?

    Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t learn any lessons that are to be learned. I have learned quite a few lessons the hard way over my lifetime. I bless those who taught me those lessons. I forgive them, knowing there is nothing to forgive.

    Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

    God is with me. God knows what I need. Sometimes I need a good kick in the pants. God’s plans are far greater than mine. I am who I am today because of those who have trespassed against me. I bless them and thank them.

    • #15
  16. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Arahant (View Comment):
    I forgive them, knowing there is nothing to forgive.

    Huh? That seems odd.

    But, sure, God can use the sin, but still not excuse the sinner. But let’s not do evil that grace may more abound.

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Flicker (View Comment):
    But let’s not do evil that grace may more abound.

    When did I say we should? Or do you think forgiving is evil?

    • #17
  18. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    But simply, I’ve never seen forgiveness granted without repentance. And I was wondering about it all.

    Let’s say that someone did something terrible to you. Immediately afterward, he walked out in a street and got hit by a truck. He never repented. Should you hold to the trespass against you for the rest of your life because he never repented?

    Now, let’s say a similar scenario, except that immediately afterward, he disappeared from your life. You will never know if he repented, whether he lived a good life or lived in anguish, etc. Are you going to carry that baggage around with you for the rest of your life?

    Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t learn any lessons that are to be learned. I have learned quite a few lessons the hard way over my lifetime. I bless those who taught me those lessons. I forgive them, knowing there is nothing to forgive.

    Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

    God is with me. God knows what I need. Sometimes I need a good kick in the pants. God’s plans are far greater than mine. I am who I am today because of those who have trespassed against me. I bless them and thank them.

    It is far easier to say that if your life has not been torn asunder by people who’re evil.

    A friend of mine, her son made a terrible mistake in marrying the wrong woman. After they had a child together, he took care of his child as she was too hopped up on dope and booze.

    Payback? After he got custody of the little girl in the divorce, his ex then used her weekend visitations to coach the child into stating that there had been abuse.

    Had there been decent social workers inside the mix, then nothing would have occurred. (Except for being separated from the child for a few weeks til things were resolved.)

    The ex’s uncle was a judge. He had influence in the sparsely populated county where the case was heard. Although the good father was exonerated from this particular charge, he lost custody of the little girl.

    Like clock work, every few years there were new allegations of abuse. My friend went almost bankrupt from dealing with her son’s situation.

    Neither one of these two ever mention forgiveness. I can’t say I blame them. The son has not slept well since the original charge of child molestation, and has not had good health since the point he stopped sleeping. That was 30 years ago.

    So yeah, in the course of normal human activity we should forgive. But none of us who have not experienced a gauntlet of pain lasting for years should ever judge someone else.

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    It is far easier to say that if your life has not been torn asunder by people who’re evil.

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    So yeah, in the course of normal human activity we should forgive. But none of us who have not experienced a gauntlet of pain lasting for years should ever judge someone else.

    I was not born thinking as I do today. Your friend’s son is not the only one who has made such mistakes. I can say my life has been easy because I have learned to seek the lessons and to forgive, not because things have not happened, not because my day-to-day life is easy, but because I am thankful for what I have.

    Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

    It is and always has been within your power. You make choices. You can choose to be upset about things, people, and events. You can choose to see God in things, people, and events. Choose this day. Choose each day.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    But none of us who have not experienced a gauntlet of pain lasting for years should ever judge someone else.

    Also, I was not being judgmental. I am merely saying there is another way. You can choose to follow it or not. Some people enjoy their pain and bitterness.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):
    It is and always has been within your power. You make choices. You can choose to be upset about things, people, and events. You can choose to see God in things, people, and events. Choose this day. Choose each day.

    Amen.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    But let’s not do evil that grace may more abound.

    When did I say we should? Or do you think forgiving is evil?

    Not you. But that was an actual interpretation of God bringing good out of evil.

    “Forgiving” must be done for the right reasons. Placating or allowing evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction doesn’t seem to me to be the proper use or the purpose of forgiveness.

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Flicker (View Comment):
    “Forgiving” must be done for the right reasons. Placating or allowing evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction doesn’t seem to me to be the proper use or the purpose of forgiveness.

    I have not said we should placate or allow “evil.” I have said we need to serve God, partially by finding Him in each moment and situation and person. Denying God seems to me to get a lot of folks in trouble. At the very least, they hold a temporary pain to them, making it a long-term pain.

    It always goes back to Eden. Everyone wants another bite of that fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God did not teach us good and evil. God taught us that He was always there for us. I do not know what is good or evil. I know some people do have ill-intentions, but that does not mean what they are doing is evil. God has a larger plan than what I can see.

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    “Forgiving” must be done for the right reasons. Placating or allowing evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction doesn’t seem to me to be the proper use or the purpose of forgiveness.

    I have not said we should placate or allow “evil.” I have said we need to serve God, partially by finding Him in each moment and situation and person. Denying God seems to me to get a lot of folks in trouble. At the very least, they hold a temporary pain to them, making it a long-term pain.

    It always goes back to Eden. Everyone wants another bite of that fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God did not teach us good and evil. God taught us that He was always there for us. I do not know what is good or evil. I know some people do have ill-intentions, but that does not mean what they are doing is evil. God has a larger plan than what I can see.

    I’m sorry. I have been half-hearted or all too brisk in my responses. You and I are either arguing two very different positions, or perhaps two sides of the same position.

    Maybe we can back up. What is forgiveness, what is it’s purpose, how is it administered, and by whom? If we more or less agree on these things I think the rest will fall into place.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Flicker (View Comment):
    “Forgiving” must be done for the right reasons. Placating or allowing evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction doesn’t seem to me to be the proper use or the purpose of forgiveness.

    I’m just curious, @flicker. Do you think my reasoning suggests allowing for evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction? Do you think G-d would want us to suffer because we have decided to hold on to our wounds? As @arahant suggests, not everything that others do, in fact many things that people do that upset us are not evil. I think holding on to our anger to keep us separate from the other or to punish him or her is not a good thing.

    • #25
  26. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    “Forgiving” must be done for the right reasons. Placating or allowing evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction doesn’t seem to me to be the proper use or the purpose of forgiveness.

    I’m just curious, @flicker. Do you think my reasoning suggests allowing for evil for personal ease or emotional satisfaction? Do you think G-d would want us to suffer because we have decided to hold on to our wounds? As @arahant suggests, not everything that others do, in fact many things that people do that upset us are not evil. I think holding on to our anger to keep us separate from the other or to punish him or her is not a good thing.

    OTTOMH (off the top of my head) I don’t think that forgiveness and anger are necessarily related. I can have a man steal five dollars out of my wallet and not be angry about it, but still may consider it justified to want to forgive him.

    I did not take your comments to be holding the relief of personal suffering as the reason for forgiving others. How God uses suffering is varied, and sometimes healing is easy, and sometimes it is impossible, depending on the person’s personality and what has been done. I do know that forgiveness may heal wounds but does not take away scars.

    There is an interesting verse that refers, I believe, to the age to come:

    “And it shall come to pass in that day… And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”

    Scars seem to remain even after healing.

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Maybe we can back up. What is forgiveness, what is it’s purpose, how is it administered, and by whom? If we more or less agree on these things I think the rest will fall into place.

    I am going to reorder your questions a bit, since I think they will make a bit more sense in a different order.

    What is forgiveness?

    Let’s start with the dictionary. “The act of giving up resentment of or claim to requital for <~ an insult>.” Another definition is “Release from a debt.” These are good working definitions. Generally, we have been speaking of the first definition in this conversation. Giving up resentment or claim to requital.

    By whom is forgiveness administered?

    The person who needs to forgive. The person who perceived some wrong was committed against him.

    How is it administered?

    There are many techniques that could be used, I suppose. But my main technique is repentance. Repent comes from the French rependre: to rethink or think again.

    Genesis 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

    I think about a situation until I can find the blessing, and then I can forgive: give up my resentment. Instead of seeing the insult, I see the blessing. Why would I resent a blessing? Even if the other person meant it for ill, they have blessed me. As Joseph said, “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…”

    It is not an instant process. I know some things have taken me more than a decade to find the blessing. It’s not always an easy process. But it is important, which brings us to the purpose.

    What is its purpose?

    Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not for the forgiven. Our purpose in life is to grow spiritually, to grow in faith, to grow in understanding. We do not do that by reopening old wounds every day. We do that by finding God in our lives. To use the language of more traditional Christians than I happen to be: We are all sinners. How can we expect others to forgive us our sins if we have not forgiven those who sinned against us? How can we expect God to forgive us if we have not forgiven others? Is that not part of the Lord’s Prayer? How can we be holier while holding every old insult and injury to our breast? How can we grow as children of God if we hate each other? The answer to all of these questions is that we can’t. Hatred and resentment are impediments to our growth. The purpose of forgiveness is to allow ourselves to grow, to be better people.

    We cannot change those who have trespassed against us. We can only change ourselves.

    • #27
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    One more point to the last. Our resentment does not hurt the person who hurt us unless they care for us. It only hurts us.

    • #28
  29. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Arahant (View Comment):

    How is it administered?

    There are many techniques that could be used, I suppose. But my main technique is repentance. Repent comes from the French rependre: to rethink or think again.

    Genesis 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

    I think about a situation until I can find the blessing, and then I can forgive: give up my resentment. Instead of seeing the insult, I see the blessing. Why would I resent a blessing? Even if the other person meant it for ill, they have blessed me. As Joseph said, “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…”

    It is not an instant process. I know some things have taken me more than a decade to find the blessing. It’s not always an easy process. But it is important, which brings us to the purpose.

    What is its purpose?

    Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not for the forgiven. Our purpose in life is to grow spiritually, to grow in faith, to grow in understanding. We do not do that by reopening old wounds every day. We do that by finding God in our lives. To use the language of more traditional Christians than I happen to be: We are all sinners. How can we expect others to forgive us our sins if we have not forgiven those who sinned against us? How can we expect God to forgive us if we have not forgiven others? Is that not part of the Lord’s Prayer? How can we be holier while holding every old insult and injury to our breast? How can we grow as children of God if we hate each other? The answer to all of these questions is that we can’t. Hatred and resentment are impediments to our growth. The purpose of forgiveness is to allow ourselves to grow, to be better people.

    We cannot change those who have trespassed against us. We can only change ourselves.

    I disagree with the last two. Forgiveness originates with God. It springs from His character, which naturally predates any and all creation. We only emulate it. God knows that we have disobeyed, and He knows the punishment for disobedience, and He knows the physical and spiritual results in us of our disobedience, better than we do. And most importantly He instituted forgiveness with one primary purpose. That purpose is to forgive sinners and to bring sinners into a just and right and even loving relationship with Him. It is a gift of mercy, for my benefit (and even the debt itself is then paid by Him Himself).

    We are to emulate God’s character. And we are to take on God’s character. If we feel better for forgiving others, this is a secondary effect.

     

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I disagree with the last two. Forgiveness originates with God. It springs from His character, which naturally predates any and all creation. We only emulate it. God knows that we have disobeyed, and He knows the punishment for disobedience, and He knows the physical and spiritual results in us of our disobedience, better than we do. And most importantly He instituted forgiveness with one primary purpose. That purpose is to forgive sinners and to bring sinners into a just and right and even loving relationship with Him. It is a gift of mercy, for my benefit (and even the debt itself is then paid by Him Himself).

    We are to emulate God’s character. And we are to take on God’s character. If we feel better for forgiving others, this is a secondary effect.

    I will have to sign off soon, but wanted to comment. I’m not sure what the bolded sentence means. It seems to lessen the importance of our forgiving, or others forgiving us, because we only emulate forgiveness. In Judaism, G-d will not forgive us unless and until we make the effort to ask forgiveness of those we have harmed. When we do this, as you say, we come close to Him. What does it mean that the purpose is to forgive sinners? Who forgives whom to fulfill that purpose? I also don’t understand how G-d pays the debt; if we committed the harm, what is the debt that G-d pays for us?

    • #30