What forgiveness is?

We are commanded by Jesus to forgive others, even those…especially those…who have wronged us. He commands us to do so, because, when we forgive, especially those who have wronged us terribly, we are most like him.

Forgiveness does not mean that we make believe the injustice never happened, or make light of it. It means we cease harboring ill against the other. We let it go.

It does not depend on our ability to bring the other to the same realization. We cannot control the other. We can only control ourselves.

Our forgiveness must commence regardless of the other. We can only make the decision for ourselves to move to the center. We cannot force the other to take that same step.

Forgiveness is not for the weak.

A barrier to forgiveness is our sense of justice. If we forgive the other and move on, where is justice? But this is why forgiveness is so hard. It is easier to forgive if we feel some guarantee that justice will be delivered in the near future. But that is not forgiveness.

Forgiveness looks only within, what we can do. It does not think of what should be done to the other.

When we focus on the injustice that has been done, it will become a dominant thought, and so we might be tempted to be God’s instrument of justice, to help things along.

But we should be careful in our zeal about seeking justice, for God is an impartial judge. If we call upon him to bring justice to our offender, he will begin with us. So we should not call down justice upon the other. The role we have been given is to forgive. Justice is what God will do, mercifully.

When we forgive, we are reminded of the mercy that has been shown to us. When we forgive even the most malicious of acts, we begin to see–only then can we see–how we have been forgiven.

When we forgive, we know God more clearly.

Even when the wrong done to us carries with it such an overpowering sense of malice, when we are filled with disgrace, humiliation, isolation–even then we forgive. Especially then.

Because,

When we feel this way, we have the privilege of feeling what Jesus felt–disgrace, humiliation, isolation,

and

When we forgive, we are most like Jesus.

Forgiveness is deciding what kind of person you want to be, what kind of life you want to live. It is a decision whether to be more or less conformed to the image of Christ. That decision is before us more often than we might think. PETER ENNS

(Crucifixion by Giotto)