Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Sunday Sermon: Forgive And Forget

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Luke.  It was one of the first books I read in any detail.  It was the focus of one of the first Bible studies I ever attended nearly thirty years ago, and we spent a lot of time on this verse in particular.  It's not only a beautiful verse, but when applied, you'll find there's great truth here.  It was one of the first scriptures I really worked hard on embracing, because I knew at the time these weren't words I was living by.  It wasn't easy to apply, but it was much more difficult when I was younger.  Age and experience and perhaps a bit of acquired wisdom has helped to make this more of an ingrained habit.  This verse over long years of doing it both the wrong way, and the right way, has become a big part of personal philosophy.

I work very hard to let go of grudges.  I will not stay angry at somebody, but it's often easier said than done--life is a contact sport, and sometimes it gets really nasty.  But in the end, I've let those things go.  Perhaps somebody will do something to me one day that I'll have a more difficult time letting go of.  But so far, I've not run across any unforgivable offenses.  I've found that you can't enjoy peace and happiness carrying around anger and hate.  I've had people lie to me.  I've had people lie about me.  I've had people cheat me.  I've had people steal from me.  And believe me, I've done a few things over the years that I'm not exactly proud of.  But I will not go through life trying to even a score.  It's not my role to judge others, to hold them accountable, or to punish them.  That is the wrong way to live your life.

I've said it hundreds, maybe even thousands of times--life is too damned short to waste one minute of it being angry.  People hang onto anger as if it has value.  Anger has no redeeming quality.  If you carry it around with  you, that anger will seep into every part of your life.  Free yourself of this baggage and you'll be happier. Just let it go.  When you are able to forgive somebody for wronging you, it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders.  And when you put it behind you, and later look back at it, you'll wonder how it was you stayed angry for so long--that issue seems so small once you get over it.

People just don't understand how forgiveness works.  It's very simple in theory, but often challenging in practice.  It doesn't have to be reciprocated--you simply forgive them.  There are no terms.  They aren't required to be sorry for what they've done, or confess that what they did was wrong--maybe they don't feel they did anything wrong.  They aren't required to apologize to you.  Those that have wronged you aren't required to do anything at all.  By the act of forgiveness, you've simply decided to let it go instead of allowing it to eat away at you for days, or months, or years.  Because being angry at them hurts you more than it hurts them.  By trying to punish them, you punish yourself more.  It's a hurt you inflict on yourself, and have to live with day in and day out until you finally learn to let it go.


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