Learning to Forgive - Part II
Jan 27, 2003, 10:15
We live in a fallen world. We are going to make mistakes that not only affect ourselves, but the people around us. Particularly the people that are most important to us, and there is no relationship more influential than the marital relationship. But why is forgiveness important?
I will offer three major reasons why forgiveness is important for your relationship with your mate. The first reason is the reality we are made in God's image. Being made in God's image carries with it a tremendous amount of honor and responsibility. Honor in knowing our innate value because of our likeness with the Creator. Responsibility because it is God's nature to forgive.
1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." If we are to strive to be more Christ like in everything we do, then forgiveness is incredibly important. If God's nature did not consist of forgiveness, where would we be? God knows the awesome power of forgiveness, and God graciously uses it to cleanse us all of our sins.
It is our nature to hunger for God, and to be in God's light. Most people, if given the choice between two tunnels, one with light at the end and the other a cavernous black, would choose the tunnel with the light. We work better in the light, we see better in the light, and are usually less afraid in the light. "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother (i.e. does not forgive or reconcile) is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him (1 John 2:10)." When we refuse to follow in God's likeness and will, we only find pain and suffering.
The second reason why forgiveness is important lies in the essence of love. Forgiveness is one of the only ways we can love like God loves. When we decide to forgive someone of wrongfully harming us, we are deciding to love him or her unconditionally. The French writer and moralist, Francois, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, wrote in the 1600's "We pardon to the extent that we love". If we choose not to forgive, then we are putting up limits and boundaries to our love for other people. Doubtlessly the greatest verses on love are in 1 Corinthians 13. They are quoted in weddings, sonnets, and aspiring romances. The verses speak of what love is, and how we should go about the business of love. All we will quote here is the last verse in this passage, 1 Corinthians 13:13 reads, "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."
Thirdly, forgiveness is freeing to the soul. Forgiveness allows us to break the bonds of anger, rage, hatred, and vengeance. All these lead down the path of destruction. They are like toxins to the soul, and forgiveness is the cleanser. Much of the work in therapy often focuses around the issue of forgiveness. Anger, rage, hatred, and vengeance prevent us from growing to become the mature adults God intends us to be.