"True sorrow leads to repentance and the changing of ones ways."
Its not too uncommon to hear some such admonishment. And it's needed -- we ought to truly be sorry, instead of just apologizing because it's expected. It seems, though, that instead of only encouraging people to truly be repentant of their actions, we should also be fostering within people true forgiveness.
Just as people say "sorry" out of obligation, so do people say "I forgive you" "'sok" "no worries" or some other nice-ity.
First, "'sok" and "no worries" do not even begin to constitute verbal forgiveness. It's merely a polite way to respond to an apology of sorts (regardless of sincerity).
Second, just because the words "I forgive" exit your mouth does not mean you truly forgive the offender. Forgiveness is not merely words.
Forgiveness is commonly defined as granting pardon or remission. I don't think most people even begin to comprehend what that means, but another accepted definition is to quit feeling resentment. That's right, forgiveness is more than words, it's an emotion -- one that we, most likely, have to cultivate.
How do we cultivate forgiveness? How do we shed feelings of cold shoulder, revenge, spite, or just simply a hurt that you hold against someone? Aren't some things just too big to forgive?
Forgiveness is active. It's alright if, after initially granting forgiveness to someone, you find yourself struggling. This is where we must practice forgiveness. We must seize these hurt-filled moments and consciously decide to forgive - to not hold the offense against the offender. And we must do this until we teach ourselves, cultivate within ourselves forgiveness.
This can be a process, as every situation requiring forgiveness varies. And while it may feel as if some hurts are too great to forgive: say "I forgive you" and actively forgive whenever you have the chance.
After all, Jesus has forgiven all of us of every single wrong thing we have done -- and all those things we ever have or should have said "sorry" for was ultimately directed at him. He no longer holds our offenses against us if we accept him for who he is - our king.
If he can forgive everyone of wrongs done against him (which, since he king, is treason and rightly punishable by death) then how much more, especially after receiving such a forgiveness, should we willingly and gladly give forgiveness to others.
To give completely. That is what forgiveness originally meant, and it still holds true. Forgiveness is to completely give away resentment against another. It is not something we merely say to appease. Forgiveness is something we must practice, and, in Jesus, we have a great example to follow.
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