Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vengeance Cancer – Why Forgive? (Part 4)

Mary Johnson’s only son was murdered by Oshea Israel. What would you do? How would you feel? How long would you hold onto the rage and hatred? I think most of us would probably hang onto it for a long time. But Mary decided to live our her faith. She forgave Oshea and now treats him like her own son. She said:
Unforgiveness is like cancer. It will eat you from the inside out. It's not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he's done. Yes, he murdered my son - but the forgiveness is for me. It's for me.
When we are hurt by another, it’s like we’ve contracted a cancer. It is a malignancy that grows inside us so long as we refuse to acknowledge it is there. As soon as we do, we must cut it out. If it is bad, we need to go through a long and painful process of chemotherapy, purging it from the multitude of locations in our life that it has spread. If we deny it exists, it grows. If we cover the symptoms, it grows. If we do anything but cut it out, it grows. We have no other options if we are to live. We must cut it out.

We think we should forgive others for their sake. After all, they hurt us. And forgiveness does indeed liberate others. But forgiveness also liberates us. We become free when we free others. Someone once said that revenge is a poison you drink thinking it will kill another. Perhaps the greatest benefit of forgiveness is that you can be free from the wrongs of others.

If you refuse to forgive, you are a slave to them. They, your enemies, cause you distress even after they’re done interacting with you. As a master over a natural slave, they are in your head, affecting your mood, influencing your behavior. And so we have a world of slaves, people unwilling to forgive.

Nelson Mandela, a powerful opponent of Apartheid in South Africa was in prison 27 years for his work. And doubtless he suffered terribly at the hands of his jailers. Upon gaining his freedom, he said:
When I was walking out of my compound for the last time, I said to myself, they've had you 27 years. If you hate them when you get through that door, they will still have you. I wanted to be free, and so I let it go.
We must forgive if we are to be free. We must forgive if we are to cut out the cancer. We must forgive if we are to have life, and to have it more abundantly.

"On Forgiveness" Table of Contents

1 comment: