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Let’s cultivate spirit of forgiveness

By Brilliant Pongo

‘To err is human, to forgive divine’, so goes an old aphorism. As we enter the new year of 2011, it becomes us as children of God to reach out with a spirit of forgiveness and an attitude of love and compassion toward those whom we have felt have wronged us. We have need of this. The whole world has need of it.

It is of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He taught it. He exemplified it. In the time of his agony on the cross of Calvary, with vile and hateful accusers before him, they who had brought him to this terrible crucifixion, he cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:24).

None of us is called on to forgive so generously, but each of us is under a divinely spoken obligation to reach out with pardon and mercy. The Lord will forgive whom he will forgive but of us, it is required to forgive all men. “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26). How much we have need of the application of this God-given principle and its companion, repentance. We see the need for it in the homes of the people, where tiny molehills of misunderstanding are fanned into mountains of argument.

We see it among neighbours, where insignificant differences lead to undying bitterness. We see it in business associates who quarrel and refuse to compromise and forgive when, in most instances, if there were a willingness to sit down together and speak quietly one to another, the matter could be resolved to the blessing of all.

Rather, they spend their days nurturing grudges and planning retribution. How difficult it is for any of us to forgive those who have injured us. We are all prone to brood on evil done us. That brooding becomes as a gnawing and destructive canker. Is there a virtue more in need of application in our time than the virtue of forgiving and forgetting?

There are those who would look upon this as a sign of weakness. Is it? I submit that it takes neither strength nor intelligence to brood in anger over wrongs suffered, to go through life with a spirit of vindictiveness, to dissipate one’s abilities in planning retribution. There is no peace in the nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living for the day when you can “get even”.

Paul speaks of “the weak and beggarly elements” of our lives.” (See Gal 4:9). Is there anything more weak or beggarly than the disposition to wear out one’s life in an unending round of bitter thoughts and scheming gestures toward those who may have affronted us? If there is anyone who reads the Weekend Spiritual Corner who nurtures in their hearts the poisonous brew for enmity towards another, I plead with you to ask the Lord for strength to forgive.

This expression of desire will be of the very substance of your repentance, it may not be easy, and it may not come quickly. But if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come. And even though he whom you have forgiven continues to pursue and threaten you, you will know you have done what you could to effect reconciliation.

There will come into your heart a peace otherwise unattainable. That peace will be the peace of Him who said: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15).

As we ponder over the past year, which was filled with all manner of challenges, shortages of commodities, politically motivated violence and all the other ugly things, let us bind up the wounds – the many wounds that have been caused by cutting words, by stubbornly cultivated grievances, by scheming plans to “get even” with those who may have wronged us.

We all have a little of the spirit of revenge in us. Fortunately, we all have the power to rise above it, if we will “clothe [ourselves] with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” To err is human, to forgive divine. There is no peace in harbouring old grudges.

There is no peace in reflecting on the pain of old wounds. There is peace only in repentance and forgiveness. This is the sweet peace of the Christ, who said “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt.5:9) of that I testify in the holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

You may contact Brilliant Pongo at starofshiloh@yahoo.com

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