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The Power of Forgiveness

October 2014
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ForgiveForgiveness is an issue we all have to revisit on a regular, on-going basis, especially in a fast-paced society like ours here in America where civility seems to have lost favor especially in dealing with strangers in our midst.

As I read the following blog post this morning (see reblogged post below by “The Daily Way”), it reminded me of an incident that I wrote about yesterday to a friend of mine in an email. I had recalled an experience that happened to me back in November 2013 where an employee of a particular company really messed up my laptop in ways that have presented problems for me up to this day while using it online. Customer service is too often not what it used to be just a few decades previous to our current times (except on a superficial level). I supposed we can blame it on a lack of basic family values that is so prevalent nowadays; however, I’m not sure exactly what it can be blamed on.

In thinking back to this incident with the employee, I’m reminded that forgiveness isn’t just about those who intentionally do wrong to us, but also those, like this employee, who (perhaps unintentionally) did something inappropriate to my laptop that, apart for buying a new laptop or having this old one repaired (and it isn’t worth the cost to repair it), can’t be fixed and has left my laptop with major security issues.

The author of the reblogged post below states that “clinical studies show the number one cause of depression is anger” yet I am reminded that anger does not always cause depression. Anger at injustice is just one example. And there is a fine line when it comes to issues involving both forgiveness and injustice.

Forgiveness, of course, is not an option but a requirement–at least for Christians. When Jesus told us to forgive “seventy times seven” (see Matthew 18:21-35), it means that there is no limit to how many times we must forgive a person who has wronged us (whether they care about being forgiven or not, and in some cases, they don’t care and perhaps never will care).

When I think back on my experience with that employee (and the ongoing problem I continue having with the security issues on my laptop), I’m reminded of just how mixed up issues regarding forgiveness can become when anger at an injustice is such a normal response in humans. And that has nothing to do with depression as noted by the author of the blog post reblogged below. Even God gets angry at injustice (see Romans 12:17-21). However, the apostle Paul in these few verses gives us the response we need to have when situations arise in our lives that are unjust. Let’s read these verses:

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

let it goI never confronted that employee concerning the condition he left my laptop in since I had no actual proof except the fact that my laptop security was far worst after he deleted some crucial files off of it. However, my complaining to my friend in an email yesterday because of my continuing frustration with using a very compromised laptop (which is the only one I own) reminded me of the fact that I had not extended forgiveness to that employee (not that he will ever know but that is not the issue). In my seeking justice for his indiscretion, I have traveled down the road that most of us travel down–the road that goes nowhere called “unforgiveness.”

There is nothing easy about forgiveness (I’ve written on the topic several times in previous blog posts). In fact, in our self-absorbed “looking out for #1” society we rarely give it out. Instead, we coddle unforgiveness like a long lost friend, feeling justified in our hurt at the injustice caused by others. And it’s an all-too-common response, too.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Too often we don’t even realize when we have been “overcome by evil.” And when our response to retaliate or strike back in some way takes hold (like my complaining to my friend yesterday in an email although the employee has no idea I’m even upset with him), we are, indeed, overcome by evil.

Life hands all of us innumerable frustrations that make us angry. And venting or trying to retaliate in some way is never the right answer. The author of the reblogged post below states, “What we fail to realize is that it takes less energy to forgive and to forget than it does to maintain our anger and unforgiveness.” That is very true; yet it is not often easy to get to that point where we are able to genuinely forgive. However, finally reaching that point makes all the difference in the world.

So, I repent of my anger at that employee and forgive him whether it was intentional or not intentional on his part to compromise the security of my laptop even though he doesn’t know that I was aware of what he did to it in the first place. I am the one who needs to let it go.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to buy a new laptop . . . .

YouTube Video: “Forgiveness” by Matthew West (click link for video).

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Daily Way

Perhaps you feel as though another person has treated you unfairly. Your best friend or a loved one has betrayed you, and now your sorrow is turning into anger and bitterness.

You know that forgiveness is something God has commanded you to do, but you can’t let go of the hurt you feel inside. It seems that you now have one goal and that is to find a way to make the person who has harmed you pay for his or her actions.

Unforgiveness can leave us drowning in a sea of frustration, rage, and resentment. If left unchecked, it also can cause physical problems. Without repentance, it can tempt us to question our own forgiveness by God. When we add up all the problems that accompany unforgiveness, we quickly see why Jesus was so firm in His command to forgive.

Clinical studies show the number one cause of depression…

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