Why we should practice the virtue of forgiveness


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Ernest Hemingway, in his short story titled The Capital of the World, narrates about a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain.

Their relationship became strained and eventually shattered.

This made the son run away from home. Then the father embarked on an epic journey in search of the lost son. Finally putting an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son’s name was Paco, a very common moniker in Spain.

The ad simply read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” As Hemingway writes, the next day at noon in front of the newspaper office there were 800 Pacos all seeking forgiveness.

That anecdote dotes on something worth writing about. There are countless Pacos in the world. They want nothing, but forgiveness. The two great virtues of a Christian are that they are giving and forgiving. Show me a person who walks with God, and I will show you a person who has a giving and forgiving heart.

When you delve deep with sharp shafts, you will unearth that almost all emotional problems and stress come from unresolved conflict, and failure to have developed the right relationships with people. Due to this, plenty of people have a heartfelt desire for total forgiveness.

A forgiving spirit is the one basic, necessary ingredient for a solid relationship. Forgiveness frees us from guilt and regret. It allows us to interact positively with other people.

When a snake bites you, you must quickly make a choice. One, you can chase the snake. Hit it hard. Teach it an indelible lesson. Avenge the offense. Two, you can seek ways to dress your wound and block the poison from affecting your body.

In case you kill the snake, you will have served your revenge quite well. However, this rash act will neither prevent pain nor delay poison from flowing into the body like a river. In case you choose to attend to the wound, you may fail to return evil for evil, but you will save your life.

Tit for tat is a fair game. Tit for tat is not a fair game. You have the latitude to choose between the two statements. But you should never forget the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi, “An eye for an eye, will only leave the world blind.”

The unfortunate truth is that many of us, instead of offering total forgiveness, pray something like this funny Irish prayer:

May those who love us, love us;

And those who don’t love us

May God turn their hearts;

And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,

May He turn their ankles,

So, we will know them by their limping.

People who find it difficult to forgive do not see themselves in a realistic sense. They are either terribly arrogant or deeply insecure. Though hanging onto a grudge gives some people a feeling of satisfaction, the truth is that people who do not forgive hurt themselves much more than they are hurting others.

A person who possesses this trait and keeps score in relationships is a person who is emotionally and sometimes physically under duress and stress. We are not able to carry all the stress that goes with carrying grudges.

Forgiveness is stopping to hate the person who offended you. To forgive is to let go of the need to revenge over what someone did to you. It is releasing negative thoughts and every form of anger and bitterness.

When you choose to forgive, you release yourself from the burden of anger, grudges, guilt, hurt, and pain. When you forgive, you choose to live in the present and the future. You bury the past. Let bygones be bygones.

The first one to apologize is the bravest. The first one to forgive is the strongest. The first one to forget is the happiest. Too often some people wait too long to forgive other people. Yet, forgiveness should happen quickly as totally as possible. Do it now!

People who forgive are always happier and healthier than those who pile up issues in their heads and hearts. Friends, family members, and colleagues at the workplace, often offend us. Even Jesus said in Luke 17 that things that cause offenses are bound to come.

God gives and forgives. But most of us get and forget. Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore it. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. For forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”

 When you refuse to forgive, you become a slave of the other person. Your mortal mind is controlled by the wrongs that were once committed. Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free and to realize that the prisoner was you.

Refusing to forgive someone, is like letting that person live in your head free of charge without paying rent. Before we pray, we should forgive. It is not a condition, but this is what we read from the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 9:12

The walls of forgiveness impede our prayers from reaching the throne of glory and grace. Love is thin when faults are thick. You cannot claim that you love God, yet you hate people. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

Forgive yourself. Do not be a prisoner of guilt and regret. You cannot always prevent failure, but you can always forgive yourself for failing. Forgiveness is the key that releases you from your own private prison. Overall, forgiveness is a virtue. Indeed, a good deed. Unforgiveness is a vice. Said, indeed, a bad deed.

By Victor Ochieng’

© Victor Ochieng’

The writer is an editor, editor, trainer, and peripatetic speaker.

vochieng.90@gmail.com. 0704420232

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