DayBreaks for 8/07/15: Forgiveness or Atrocity?
From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:
As with most things in life, we have choices to make. We can choose friends, choose careers, choose a spouse, choose what to eat and where to live. But it’s interesting that when it comes to handling our emotions and how we react to things, we seem to find it very hard to make the right choices some times. We seem to find it nearly impossible to love our enemies or to fight certain temptations. And perhaps the most common complaint about emotional sin is the one that says, “I just can’t forgive So-and-so for what they did.”
And so, unforgiveness reigns in the heart of much of the world. It’s why the Palestinians and Israelis continue to hate and spiral downward in ever-increasing violence and anger. It’s why the Sunnis and Shiites can’t get along. It’s why the Pakistanis and Indians don’t like one another, or the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. The essayist Lance Morrow, in observing this human tendency, hit it on the head when he noted that when unforgiveness reigns, a Newtonian-like law comes into play: “For every atrocity there must be an equal and opposite atrocity.” Theologian Romano Guardini offered this as a diagnosis of the problem of revenge: “As long as you are tangled in the wrong and revenge, blow and counterblow, aggression and defense, you will be constantly drawn into fresh wrong…Only forgiveness frees us from the injustices of others.” And perhaps no one better described the outcome of unforgiveness and revenge better than Gandhi, who observed that if everyone followed the “eye for an eye” rule, eventually the whole world would go blind.
Someone needs to stop the cycle of viciousness that lives in the hearts of humanity. Perhaps we are right when we say that we can’t forgive someone. Perhaps it takes the Spirit living in us for us to be able to forgive those who have mistreated or hurt us or those we love. Whatever it takes, we need to find the strength to stop the bitterness that keeps pouring gasoline on the fire of unforgiveness and which demands an ever greater sacrifice to satisfy our desire for revenge.
Revenge is a hungry monster that is never sated. That’s why it must be killed. How much room are you giving revenge in your heart? Who do you need to forgive so that you can be like your Father in heaven?
PRAYER: Keep us from deluding ourselves into thinking we have forgiven when perhaps all we have done is avoided the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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