Unforgiveness; it’s an ugly word. Choosing to deny forgiveness to others is choosing to define them by the worst moments of their lives. The words “I won’t ever forgive you for…” have crossed all of our lips; no one can claim innocence.
Consider the following words spoken by Yeshua (Jesus) from the book of Matthew, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. For the way you judge others is how you will be judged — the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure you. Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but not notice the log in your own eye? Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:1-3 and 12 The Complete Jewish Bible) Verse 12 many recognize as the Golden Rule.
Religious views of Yeshua aside, Yeshua was a rebel. He challenged the status quo, often landing him in hot water with the religious leaders of the day. Yeshua was also a teacher. Great teachers challenge their students to think outside the box, to choose the high road, to seek a higher purpose. Before Yeshua, the eye-for-an-eye mentality was the accepted standard. And then Yeshua shook it up even more when he said to forgive seventy times seven every day. Radical shift.
We mess up. We have stuff in our lives, stuff we are not proud to admit, stuff we did or said in the heat of anger, stuff we wish we could undo. How arrogant to expect and accept forgiveness for our stuff, but deny it to others. No one likes to feel the sting of judgment, yet we judge others for the splinters in their eyes when we have a log in ours. We want others to pay a price for their misdeeds, but want forgiveness for ours.
On the flipside, Yeshua said, “So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24 The Complete Jewish Bible) Either way, Yeshua’s message is to reconcile relationships damaged by unforgiveness.
The greatest example of forgiveness were the words uttered by Yeshua, on the last day of his earthly life, “Father, forgive them; they don’t understand what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24 The Complete Jewish Bible) Yeshua died asking forgiveness for mankind. Christians associate these words with Good Friday. Denying forgiveness to others while identifying as a Christian, in effect, invalidates the message of the crucifixion.
What resentments do you harbor against others? What transgressions remain unforgiven? From whom have you willfully withheld forgiveness? Forgiveness is a choice, a decision, an act of the will. Choose today as the day to forgive people and begin the process of healing relationships damaged by unforgiveness.
It is said, “I love you” are the three most powerful words in the world. The three most powerful words are not “I love you”, the three most powerful words are “I forgive you…..”