According to the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of forgiveness is ‘ to stop blaming or being angry with someone for something that person has done’. It means that you no longer think about what the person has done in the past but, instead you decide to move one. In another word, anger does not longer dictate your present actions or future.
“Next year we are going to spend holidays at your cousin ‘s house.”
“Oh no ! If that’s the case, I will go to the hotel.”
“What do you mean, you want to stay in a hotel ? It is unacceptable, you cannot have this behavior when you told me you forgave her. And yet, you call yourself christian…”
“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13 :5 (NIV)
That day, I was on my second day of fasting on the three, and while I was studying the word this verse struck me in my heart. Indeed, this verse hit my spirit and made me feel uncomfortable. Although it was very clear, I was not convinced of the meaning of this verse. Filled with hope, I searched for the different Bible versions to be certain of the meaning. The multiple biblical versions, NIV, NKJV, NLT all led me to the same conclusion: I was not loving my neighbor following Jesus’ definition of Love.
Indeed, I used to say with insurance that forgiveness is my portion and believed that I loved my neighbor as myself like taught me Jesus, but it was not always the case. Unfortunately, I loved some people with a heart full of bitterness, a heart ready to explode to the slightest misbehavior. suspicions invaded a part of my heart, then opened a room of bitterness, and my behavior was a consequence of it. Therefore, in front of this person I locked myself up, in my shell like a turtle. This feeling of bitterness instead of gathering people out of love, can separates them, creates tensions, and even disputes.
In the scenario seen above, the girl full of resentment does not want to spend the night at her cousin’s. Nevertheless, her feeling has consequences on her behavior. And if she is led by this feeling and decides not to stay over at her cousin with her father, it will have a significant impact. A tension will evolve between the two young women and will impact the family unity and the love which bind the family. I was that girl.
- Forgiveness is an instruction
A few years ago, one of my pair had deeply offended me. She had been mean, wicked and shared very hurtful words full of hostility. Following this event, as a woman of God, I thought I had forgiven her and therefore was able to love her. Forgiveness is a duty, but it is also a choice. I knew that I had the duty to forgive because it is an instruction of Christ, however, lately during my 3days of fasting when I studied the definition of love and I read verse 5 of the first letter to the Corinthians at Chapter 13, “Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13 :5 NIV this verse totally broke me. Furthermore, I was supposed to love my neighbor but yet, I suspected evil and my heart was full of bitterness. That’s the reason why, each time we mentioned the name of this person, i had shivers and I suddenly became irritated. I then understood that I was far from loving as Jesus instructed us to love. Had I actually made the choice to forgive her in the first place?
Indeed, I had followed the instruction of my master certainly, but I had not made the choice to forgive. As a result, I could not express the pure and genuine love of Jesus to this person.
- Forgiveness is a choice
When we choose to forgive, bitterness leaves our heart and we do not keep the past evil in mind. True forgiveness, according to Christ, brings healing to the soul and erases all bitterness.
Can you imagine for a second if Jesus forgave us by considering all the sins we have committed? None of us would have been saved.
I like the story of the prodigy son because it brings to us a beautiful lesson on the benefits of forgiveness. When the youngest son who wasted all of his father’s inheritance on debauchery and with women, returns to his parent and asks for forgiveness, the father greets him with open arms. Indeed, he had already made the choice to forgive him, a long time ago. The reason why I know he had not only followed God’s instruction on forgiveness, but also made the choice to forgive, is that his heart was relieved of all bitterness, all burdens. However, the eldest son had not forgiven his brother’s behavior. Thus, he was consumed by jealousy towards his younger brother.
“And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” Luke 15 :21-24 (NKJV)
The beauty of these scriptures takes place through the behavior of the father who does not blame his son, he does not reprimand him but on the contrary he welcomes him with open arms. Likewise, our Lord welcomes us with open arms when we confess our sin with a sincere heart.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1 :9 (NKJV)
to be continued next week
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