It has been called one of the most powerful weapons in history. It can reduce even the biggest and strongest of men to tears and can solve the greatest of the world’s conflicts. What is this weapon you may ask? Forgiveness. How might something so simple be so strong and formidable? Forgiveness breaks down walls that no other weapon can do, and it does so with grace, love and mercy.
I recently saw a news story in which a former Auschwitz camp prisoner met face to face with one of the Nazi guards who overlooked her and the other prisoners. She walked up to him and shook his hand, saying that she forgave him and deeply appreciated his appearing in court to face what he had done. He smiled and simply gave her a kiss on the cheek (Blaze TV). What greater example is there of forgiveness then this? She was at death’s door during World War II, facing the extermination of the Nazi party. She could have met this man with anger, resentment and physical violence that many would find acceptable. But rather, she forgave, and allowed his moral consciousness to move past what he had done into a place of love and mercy. This is exactly what our Father does for us as well. We are so wrapped up in sin, it’s a wonder that we even wake up every morning, in fact, we don’t deserve to wake up. The only deserved punishment for our sin would be death, but God reached out through Christ to save us from this condemnation. He gave us an opportunity for life, not death. How freeing it is to realize that one can walk in the light, despite living a life that had been in darkness. No matter the past, whether it be murder, gluttony or addiction, Christ covers our sins and allows us to truly live. Because the greatest gift has been freely given to us, so we must freely give it to others. There is a reason forgiveness is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal. It is because so many expect revenge, so many expect retaliation for the crime they have committed. Forgiveness breaks down the walls of revenge. Revenge is a perfectly natural response to someone who has wronged us, forgiveness is not. So why respond with forgiveness when revenge is so natural? Because if we don’t forgive, we cannot be forgiven ourselves. The act of forgiveness doesn’t just apply to forgiving others, but also to oneself. We maintain our past failures and faults to give us a part of our identity. We identify with the wrongs we have committed in the past, using them to help us identify the person we wish to become. And while learning from the past is key to a successful future, we must not cling to our sin, for it is no longer there. Christ has wiped our slate clean. We are, in a sense, born again. Born into a life not being defined by what we’ve done, but by what we do. One can look far and wide and not find a better definition of freedom than that. So by the grace of God, go and live a life free from your wounds, faults, and wrongdoings. Look to Christ as your anchor, for He is the one who died, so that you might live.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6: 14-15