We live in an angry, angry society.
Thirty seconds on social media or watching national news will tell you that. How much space are anger and grudges taking up in our minds, and how long will it be before they consume us?
I’ve seen people consumed by anger and bitterness, and it’s not pretty. The better part of human nature desires justice, but the worse part of it nurses hate and grudges, like a fish swallowing a fishing hook.
Forgiveness might lift a weight from us all, yet most of us seem to struggle to forgive — if we even try. I know, forgiveness isn’t easy. Some things people do or say really cut deeply and are hard move past.
Then, there are people who haven’t forgiven themselves, always remembering those times they failed or wronged someone.
We could all use a little forgiveness.
That doesn’t mean pretending wrong isn’t wrong and hurtful. In fact, forgiveness is an acknowledgment that it was wrong and hurtful — and deciding not to let it have so much control over the future.
Forgiveness also doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of consequences. That would just enable destructive behavior.
Instead, forgiveness means laying down the hurt, anger and hate, and no longer trying to add to the person’s punishment, even if that punishment is a grudge.
Practical or legal consequences may be meted out, and amends may need to be made. But there’s a time to no longer let the anger consume anything more from the person carrying it.
The concept applies the same to oneself or another.
For those of us who follow Christ, it means trusting God to handle whatever justice is necessary beyond reasonable human action and remembering how many wrongs he’s forgiven in us.
If I, as an imperfect being, have been forgiven by God, who does no wrong, what right do I have to refuse to forgive another person who’s only as imperfect as I am?
Besides, if I say I trust God, that should include trusting him to handle justice better than I can.
For people who don’t subscribe to Christianity, maybe forgiveness means finding a way to move past the anger, knowing a grudge is just an emotional fishhook that brings damage and takes freedom from the person holding onto it.
I’m not sure if there’s a worldview outside Christianity that gives justice and forgiveness — things we all tend to want in some way — both the same weight of importance.
God insists on both justice and forgiveness, so he takes the full force of justice on himself when Jesus is crucified to be able to forgive those who accept what he did.
That doesn’t mean no consequences at all for bad behavior. It does mean we don’t have to be defined by our worst decisions or what others have done to us. It means God has laid out for us a path to peace.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me or believe in Christianity. But maybe those concepts are worth considering.
Who couldn’t use more peace?