Tag Archives: resentment

The Forgiveness Blessing

In my last post, The Forgiveness Challenge, I wrote about the misunderstandings regarding our ability to forgive others. Forgiveness is not condoning what someone has done to us. In fact part of forgiveness is to acknowledge how I have been hurt by the actions of another.

Forgiveness does not mean that trust, love or friendship will automatically be restored. I can forgive someone and still avoid situations where the person who harmed me might repeat the action. An example is a wife whose husband is abusive to her and her children. She can for forgive his actions, but needs to physically remove herself from the relationship to avoid future abuse.

God's Hand of Blessing

God’s Hand of Blessing

So then, what is forgiveness and its blessing?

The blessing is that the one forgiving is able to let go of the heavy burden of resentment, anger and desire for retribution. She releases the anger and resentment toward the person who wronged her  so that she can continue a vibrant life of faith and love. Forgiveness frees the person who forgives, regardless of what happens to the person forgiven.

The opposite of forgiveness is to bear a grudge, to carry an ongoing memory of the hurt/wrong and to seek some form of retribution. “I have been hurt and I want someone to pay for it!”  The grudge may come from a tragic one time incident (like a horrible automobile accident) or from countless encounters (such as a co-worker who is constantly using verbal put-downs). The grudge becomes a burden that weighs on our hearts and minds. It grows as we feed it more resentments and negative thoughts and in time the grudge can absorb our whole life. What a blessing to lay that burden down.

heavy-burdenThe best way to lay that burden down is a three-fold path.

First, recognize that the resentment and anger has become a toxic burden that is destroying your life.

Second, pray that God will give you the ability to forgive and give up the burden. Jesus promised, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Third, pray for the one who hurt you and for God’s power and love to surround them. Visualize them as a child of God, broken and flawed, but still loved. Jesus said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt 5:44).

This is a process that takes time. Rarely is it one fervent prayer and all resentment is gone. Rather forgiveness is like a muscle that needs to be activated and exercised regularly. No wonder Jesus place it in the center of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive the sins of others” (Luke 11:4).

When and how has forgiveness been a blessing to you?

Lord Jesus, continually teach us to forgive one another.

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Forgiveness Can Be Tough

forgiveness log 2

Forgiveness can be tough. Even though we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us,” and know that Christ forgives us, we can often struggle to forgive those who wrong us.

I was in college, near the end of my freshman year. A friend and I applied to be resident assistants together in the freshman dorm. We were interviewed for the position by some upper classmates. My friend and I thought the interview had gone well. We both had good references as compassionate, helpful students and since there were only a few applicants, we thought we would both be chosen.

A few days later, I discovered that I had been rejected.

The reason given was that I was too vocal about my Christian faith. The student leaders thought I would be constantly “evangelizing” the freshman on my floor, even though this behavior had not been discussed in the interview. I felt that I had been unfairly rejected and was both disappointed and angry.

I wrestled with how to be forgiving towards the student leaders. I believed they had jumped to a conclusion without ever asking the question. I had helped start a Christian fellowship on the campus where none had existed before, but I was not some “outspoken” evangelist.  In fact, I was often too quiet about my faith in public settings. After the rejection, I wrestled with my resentment towards my fellow students and whether I could forgive them.

Fortunately this wrestling match ended quickly. The Dean of Students (who had written one of my recommendations) heard about this unfair decision and reversed it. I was thankful for his intervention and had a good year as a resident assistant. Still I wonder what I would have done if the Dean had not intervened. How long would I have carried resentments?

Jesus carried no such resentments.  Even as he was nailed to the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Have you ever struggled with forgiving someone?

Lord Jesus, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.