Summary: Meaning of forgiveness
The United States of America is retaliating on Afghanistan where, according to their sources, Osama Bin Laden is in hiding. George W. Bush had said that acts of terrorism would not be tolerated and would lead to retaliation. They did choose to retaliate as they are currently undergoing a bombing campaign against Afghanistan, which has killed nearly nine hundred people so far; now they are also sending troops into the land. The U.S. believe that the country is sheltering the infamous terrorist. George Bush stated that retaliation would follow any terrorist act, but one question rose up from my mind, ¡°What justifies the U.S.¡¯s attack on Afghanistan? Do they have the right to attack another country by merely accusing them of supporting Bin Laden and other known terrorists?¡±
While the U.S. is at war with their enemies, pastors in the States have taken on different opinions about the disaster that struck America. They say that the attack on America is accountable to the American people as they chose to turn their backs on God, disrespect Him, and ignore him. America has become a corrupted country in every aspect of society. They must come to the realization that if they do not repent of their sins, God will punish them as He did with Sodom and Gomorra. The incident on Sept. 11th was merely one of the many punishments that are to come.
But wasn¡¯t it Jesus that told us to ¡°love our enemy?¡± And to love our enemy, we must learn to forgive them first. The dictionary defines forgiveness as a means to excuse one¡¯s fault or offence. In other words, we should accept and understand other people¡¯s faults or offences towards us. We tend to think forgiveness means toleration. For instance, a big bully in your school always bugs you and beats you up whenever he sees you; you might say that you forgive him with your tongue, but you do not forgive him in your heart. If you do not fight back because you know you are not strong enough, you are merely tolerating him. If you realize that you do have the power to fight back, retaliation will be your first response. As we humans are weak, we tend to get revenge as long as we have the ability to do so. Therefore, toleration is not the same as forgiveness.
Many teenage girls become the victims of rape and sexual assault. But many of the victims choose to avoid dealing with the problems because dealing with the problems is like cutting your flesh off with a knife. It is a painful process, and most would rather bury the traumatic memories in the dark recesses of their minds. You choose not to remember and by doing so you are simply running away from it. This is not forgiveness either.
But true forgiveness is something that ¡°removes all the guilt and causes of alienation from the past, it assures a state of grace for the present, and it promises divine mercy and aid for the future.¡± This simply means that forgiveness removes one¡¯s guilt, leaving one¡¯s past behind, and leads one to the grace of God.
But questions still arise in our minds: What if we don¡¯t forgive our offenders? Why can¡¯t we just live without forgiving them? The answers are simple. Firstly if we don¡¯t forgive our offenders, our peace from God is fades. The peace from God in our souls will be disturbed, and our spirits will suffer, longing for the grace of God because the grace of God will be pale and weak as a result of our hatred.
Secondly, our joy and happiness will be gone. Whenever your hurt and wounded heart wakes your memory, your joy disappears, and hatred comes forth. We can¡¯t have the full grace of God, if hatred is on our mind.
Thirdly, a guilty feeling deep in our minds will drag us down and burden us. We won¡¯t really notice the heavy burden on our shoulders, but our souls will know that you are carrying the guilty feelings. It¡¯s a God given feeling that indicates we should do something for our brothers and sisters who have wronged us.
What did Jesus say about it?
We constantly pray our Lord¡¯s Prayer asking God to ¡°forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.¡± And the bible says, ¡°for if you forgive me when they sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sin, your Father will not forgive your sins.¡± Matt 6:14,15
They are striking words. They are saying that if we don¡¯t forgive those who hurt us or harm us, God will refuse to forgive us as well. In the Old Testament, if we blinded a person¡¯s eye, we would get the very same punishment known as an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Can you imagine a situation where you had accidentally punched your friend¡¯s tooth out; you would also lose your tooth. This is a very savage way of dealing with people¡¯s errors.