When my family experienced a crisis many years ago, certain extended family members said and did things I felt were insensitive. I was hurt and held a grudge for nearly a year, blocking their calls and closing all communication. While I was hurting, my actions, in turn, deeply hurt those extended family members. It took much fasting and prayer for me to forgive and work to rebuild our relationship.
From that experience, I learned that I did not like being a bitter and resentful person. Moreover, I hated knowing I had hurt extended family members. I vowed to never hold another grudge and forgive.
I love a quote by Nelson Mandela who said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
Because no one is perfect, we all make mistakes and it is guaranteed that we will all get hurt or offended. In Matthew 18, Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother. “Till seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say not unto thee until seven times: but until seventy times seven.” http://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/forgive-70-times-7?lang=eng
The Savior then proceeded to tell Peter a story about a man who owed the king ten thousand talents. Since the king’s servant could not pay, the king commanded that the man be sent to prison and everything he had, including his wife and children, be sold. When the man fell before the king, he begged for mercy. The king then forgave the debt and released the man, his family, and his property.
Once the king’s servant returned home, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him 100 pence. After taking him by the throat, he demanded the other man to pay him. The fellow servant then fell down at the servant’s feet and begged for mercy. The servant refused to have compassion and threw his fellow servant into prison until the debt could be paid.
When the King found out what his servant had done, he called for him saying, “O thou wicked servant. I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me. Shouldst thou have compassion on thy fellow servant even as I had pity on thee?”
Just as God forgives us “our trespasses” so are we commanded to forgive others. I love the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a devout Dutch Christian woman, who was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II for helping rescue Jews. Following her release from prison, she spent her life sharing the message of Christ throughout the world. In her book, The Hiding Place, she writes of one occasion after the war that a former Nazi guard who had been part of her miserable confinement in Raversbruck, Germany approached her, rejoicing at her message of Christ’s forgiveness and love.
” ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein, he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’
“His hand was thrust out to shake mine,” Corrie recalled. “And I, who had preached so often … the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. . .Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
“I tried to smile, (and) I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.”
“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
This year for my New Year’s Resolution, I’ve decided to be more devoted to the Savior, especially in forgiving others. For my many friends and readers I challenge you to do the same. What a wonderful place the world would be if only we could all more easily forgive!