"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
The world will say that to FORGIVE those who harm you is a sign of weakness, yet God demands that we FORGIVE those who sin against us. Why? What does FORGIVENESS accomplish?
Anger and hate are very powerful emotions, but their power is destructive. They tear apart and tear down relationships and peoples. Yet, FORGIVENESS is also powerful, and has the ability to transform lives for the better.
While studying this subject for my class, I came across a web site http://www.theforgivenessproject.com/. It has story after story about the victims and perpetrators of violent acts. They were brought together by a restorative justice program whereby the victims are able to confront those who hurt them. Many offered up FORGIVENESS to those who had done them harm. What happened to them was amazing and I was struck by the incredible power that FORGIVENESS had to transform both the victims and some cases the offenders.
The following are excerpts from some of the stories. You can see how FORGIVENESS can have a profound effect on people. The offenders did not always choose to turn their lives around. We are always free to choose which path we take but most felt remorse for the first time. The first two excerpts are from the stories of two men who did choose to turn from their destructive ways. The last two are from victims.
(a career criminal who was FORGIVEN by a young woman who was permanently disfigured by him)
John Before FORGIVENESS : ”I was proud of my crimes – they were me, and showed people that I was a nasty, evil b******* who was not to be messed with.”
John after forgiveness -”I hadn’t asked for this and I certainly didn’t expect it, but by God those words (I FORGIVE you) had a profound effect. They stopped me in my tracks and concentrated my resolve never to repeat anything like this.”
(the son of an extremely abusive mother who forgave his mother and her brother who raped him as a child)
Sammy Before FORGIVENESS- (After being sent to prison for an extended period and joining a prison gang) “I went into prison as a street punk and came out as a brutal leader with a killer mentality.”
Sammy After FORGIVENESS- ”And so, in the end, FORGIVENESS released me from the hate that was consuming me. “
*He now works for a Safe Streets Outreach Program.
(the Mother of a 12 year old girl who FORGAVE her daughter’s murderer)
Before FORGIVENESS-“Hate and unforgiveness consumed me. My thoughts were focused only on ways that I could kill Karl Roberts myself.”
After FORGIVENESS-”At that precise moment, (of FORGIVING her daughter’s killer) I realized that the only way I would be able to go on living was to stop hating.
(a rape victim who forgave her rapist)
*”I wanted myself to be free of that burden of grievance.”
*”This had a massive impact on Darren.” (the rapist)
*”As I left that room I felt on top of the world.”
FORGIVENESS is not a sign of weakness, but of great power. Power to transform even the most hardened heart. Consider what God has done for you and work towards being one who is able to FORGIVE. Tap into it’s power and transform your heart, mind, and life.
Asking FORGIVENESS will put you on the road to give FORGIVENESS. – Craig Young