The Grace of Forgiveness (Part 2)
|“When you begin a journey of revenge, start by digging two graves: one for your enemy, and one for yourself.” Image credit|
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult wrote in “Nineteen Minutes,” “When you begin a journey of revenge, start by digging two graves: one for your enemy, and one for yourself.” Thus, to forgive is way much better than to have your revenge.
We already saw what forgiveness is not. Now, let’s look at what it really is. (Again, I’m indebted to Pastor Ron Edmondson’s “7 Things Forgiveness IS” in writing this article.)
First, forgiveness is “a choice.” You don’t wait to feel that you want to forgive. It’s a choice whether you feel like it or not. That’s why it’s commanded: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25) Note that God the Father forgives when we forgive others. And the way we forgive will be the way He will forgive us: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12. Emphasis added.)
Second, forgiveness is “letting go of a right to get even” and “dropping resentment and grudge.” Somebody wrote that, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and wishing for the other person to die.” According to Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” You don’t take revenge and you don’t hold grudges. You let go.
Third, forgiveness is “the removal of a roadblock.” Pastor Edmondson wrote, “Forgiveness removes the barrier between us and living at peace again with ourselves, others, and God.”  God won’t answer the prayers of an unforgiving person. According to 1 Timothy 2:8, “I want everyone everywhere to lift innocent hands toward heaven and pray, without being angry or arguing with each other.” (CEV. Emphasis added.)
Fourth, forgiveness is “a step towards healing,” that is, a “moving forward.” When the offense was committed, the hurt was inflicted by others. When we refuse to forgive, the hurt is self-inflicted. We hurt ourselves again and again. And, hurt people hurt people.
Forgiveness is like saying, “It hurt. I didn’t like it, but I’m moving forward with my life in spite of the pain.” … Forgiveness releases a weight from the shoulders of the injured, opening the door for emotions to heal. 
Forgiveness benefits the one who forgives more than the one who is forgiven. Why? Unforgiveness breeds a lot of other bad attitudes. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31) It’s not worth it.
Fifth, forgiveness is “an opportunity to display grace.” When we forgive, it shows that we ourselves have been forgiven. We give grace because we received grace. Ephesians 4:32 commands us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
According to Pastor Edmondson, “There is no greater picture of God’s forgiveness of us than for us to forgive one another.” 
I know these are difficult. I know some of the pain runs deep. I can’t describe it for you adequately, but I can tell you that forgiveness IS all it’s claims to be. If you truly want to be free of the hold the injury has on your heart, forgive the one who injured you.
Forgiveness is worth it. Unforgiveness is not worth it. Pray for people you need to forgive. Take steps to show them that you have already forgiven them.
NOTE: This is Day Four of the devotional guide (Volume 1, Issue 9) of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship, for the message on “Pass It On! (Part 4)” last April 26.
 Ron Edmondson (2011, May 21), “7 Things Forgiveness IS,” Ron Edmondson, retrieved from http://www.ronedmondson.com/.
 Ibid. Italics his.
 Ibid. Emphasis his.