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Who benefits more from forgiveness?

In the latest Voice of Hope Series, Fr Alvan Ibeh looks at who benefits more from forgiveness.

The previous article on Forgiveness reminded us how merciful our God is and how He readily forgives us whenever we genuinely repent of our sins and seek His forgiveness.

It doesn’t matter what we feel we have done in the past. The good news is that God is not interested in our past. He does not keep a record of our wrongdoings but desires that we all will repent and be saved: “As I live says the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live.” (Ezekiel 18:23)

To forgive others whatever they have done to us is a command which Jesus has given to anyone who has made that quality decision of following Him. When Jesus said, “if you want to be my disciple”, He was aware that following Him would not be easy and is not be something anyone would be forced into. So, if we have made up our minds to be his disciples, we must be ready to forgive unconditionally and with no limits; “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me?’ Up to seven times? Jesus answered. I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!” (Matt 18:21-22)

There is no doubt that it’s easy to talk about forgiveness, but the problem lies in putting it into practice. It can be difficult sometimes as human beings we all are. Forgiveness is divine. That is the reason why at that point, when it becomes challenging to forgive, we must run to God, who is our divine helper and ask Him for the grace to forgive, especially that person who has done something that broke us into pieces. Is there someone you find difficult to forgive even as you read this? Pause now, mention the person’s name and say, “I forgive you by God’s grace because God has forgiven me, and I want to have my peace back”. How do you feel now? Relieved right? Now, apart from the fact that we must forgive because God forgives us, there are other reasons why we must forgive.

In reality, the person who forgives benefits more than the person who is forgiven. As long as we refuse to forgive, we make ourselves victims and captives and will continue to carry a heavy burden.

Forgiveness allows us to relieve ourselves of this burden and free ourselves from captivity. Choosing to forgive is choosing to let go of the past. If we don’t, we will be stuck in our past and can’t move forward. Today, many people have wasted their lives in bitterness and resentment when they would have enjoyed their lives by simply letting go. Choosing not to forgive is making a conscious decision to hand over our happiness to the other person. Remember, as long as you have something against that person, you can never be happy whenever they are around. The person becomes a custodian of your happiness, but that moment you forgive, you take your joy back.

You may say, “you don’t know how this person has broken my heart, and my heart bleeds whenever I see him/her”. Yes, I understand, but yet you need to know the situation can only change if you can let go and forgive. Forgiveness leads to healing because holding onto resentment and not forgiving is sinful and can affect your physical wellness. So forgiveness brings us back to good health and helps us to grow.

We freely receive forgiveness from God; let us, therefore, freely give it to those who offend us. May the Lord bless us with the grace and strength to always forgive. Remain blessed in the Lord.

Click here to read the first part of this article.

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