Forgiveness. What is forgiveness? And, how and why should we forgive? Who should we forgive? Forgiveness - the act of forgiving - is a spirituality issue that I have contemplated and grappled with in my own life. It is something that I have experienced, myself, through others, and by observing others. Why is it important for us to forgive ourselves and each other? These are topics of personal relevance, as well as relevance for the greater population.
Forgiveness is not only something that must be taught, it must be learned. People must model forgiveness with each other and encourage it among one another in order for it to have full and far-reaching positive effects. Jesus taught and commanded that people forgive each other, so that both we and our sins will be forgiven by God.
Colossians 3:13 states, "Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (The Holy Bible, 1979). Mark 11:26 states, "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (The Holy Bible, 1979). Matthew 6: 14-15 also shares, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" The Holy Bible, 1979). The Bible and Jesus' teachings, therefore, instruct us that we are to forgive each other.
One of my favorite Bible passages that is very humbling to me is Matthew 18: 21-22, which states, "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven" (The Holy Bible, 1979).
This passage reminds us that we are not perfect, that none of us are perfect, and that, to me, is very humbling. When I think of the mistakes that I make and sins that I commit, whether unintentionally or not, it never fails to humble me when I hear and contemplate these verses. Jesus wants us to forgive each other seventy times seven times, that's nearly 500 times! One must understand the general idea, however, is not to just forgive each other once, twice, or even a few times, but repeatedly, without end. That also reminds me of how fallible and human we truly are, and that we are actually in need of forgiveness, by each other and of ourselves.
Luke 6: 36-37 further teaches us to be kind, merciful, and forgiving, "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:" (The Holy Bible, 1979). Luke 6 actually teaches us many things about each other in addition to this, such as being good to the poor and giving to one another.
Luke 6 provides us with an opportunity to reflect on who we are as people - to reflect on our characters and true natures. Are we people who truly have goodness in our hearts? Are our thoughts, words, and actions motivated by and intended to help and support each other and ourselves? Do we honestly hope to be caring, compassionate, understanding, merciful, and forgiving toward each other?
The Bible and Jesus' teachings, therefore, instruct and direct us to forgive each other. Not only are we to forgive each other a few or several times, but countless times, for we are fallible, we are human, we are children of God who are progressing through our learning stages of life. When we ask others to forgive us, we are humbling ourselves to their mercy.