Forgiveness is one of the most common themes and commandments in the Bible.

Wait. Did that just say it’s also a “commandment?” It did, indeed.

Unforgiveness is not just a problem — it’s a sin. Just like all those other things etched in stone — like thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, etc. They’re the “10 commandments” and not the 10 suggestions.

I was blessed to have two Godly parents, as well as a legacy of relatives who were truly forgiving people.

Not that it’s easy, of course. People can, and will, let us down, even offend and hurt us.

But God sent his son, Jesus, to Earth to make sure we got the message loud and clear. He was the ultimate example and model of the concept.

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve wrestled with this topic for about 20 years now, as I found myself doing battle with some real challenging types.

Oh, I tried killing them with kindness. I prayed for them. I apologized. The more I did, the worse it became. I sent cards and notes and gifts and got nothing in return. My husband Ron said one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard — “What are they going to do, ignore us more?!”

I admittedly sought every possible loophole to get around forgiving them for the harsh words and mean actions lobbed my way.

Then my sister hit me squarely between the eyes with this reminder from the scriptures — “We will be forgiven (by God) as we forgive (others).”

I couldn’t argue with that. It was probably just the cold water I needed poured on my righteous anger.

Then one day out of the blue we were invited to a gathering of these people. And something amazing happened. As we walked through the church doors — so fitting that this encounter took place in God’s house — I had a wave of peace come over like never before. I knew immediately what it was.

Forgiveness.

In that moment, I realized God had heard my prayers. He knew my heart and my sincere desire to mend fences and heal.

Hold on, though. Nothing else happened. Apparently they could ignore us more.

Ron and I stayed awhile, filling the awkward silences, until we finally left and went home. But I realized a wonderful truth. Forgiveness is not always about reconciliation.

Whether we’re living in the same house, the same county or the same world, forgiveness must begin within us. If anyone can’t be in the same room or breathe the same air as those they have offended, it’s not forgiveness — it’s simply avoidance.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, a freedom that unlocks the shackles of our heart.

And as I recently read, until you forgive. your past is not your past. It’s your present as long as you hold onto it. God will not let your future live until you let the past die.

Forgiveness, you see, doesn’t make your offenders right. It just makes you free. And that, friends, is priceless.

Phyllis Moore is a speaker, author and former reporter with the News Argus. She also has a YouTube channel, Phyllisophically Speaking.

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