Desmond Tutu, the South African Anglican cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner, once said, "Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning."
He should know, because he fought the practice of Apartheid in South Africa for many years before the practice was finally abolished in 1994. This was the year a new constitution was adopted, giving the non-white majority the right to vote and have a say in the affairs of the nation. History is replete with examples of persecution, including our own great nation that fought a Civil War to end the practice of slavery.
The reason I have shared this bit of information with you is because it contains the quote by Bishop Tutu, "Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning." In doing so, he really spoke the truth, which it is why it’s a famous quote. A quote is nothing more or less than truth grown old. When we harbor hate, bitterness or resentment toward another person or group of people who have hurt or wronged us, we can truly make a new beginning when we totally forgive them.
With all the challenges we face, especially in our modern culture, life is hard and we have problems to solve each and every day. Many of our problems come from dealing with other people and our interpersonal relationships. When we have other people hurt us and wound our spirit — especially family, friends and those we care about — it can go so far as to even rip our heart out and leave us desperate for answers.
Awhile back I discovered a simple saying that has been a tremendous help to me in dealing with others. While I have family, friends and others disappoint me from time to time, I don’t face a lot of negative emotions because I do my best to treat others as I wish to be treated. If and when you have someone hurt or wrong you, here is what I hope you will think about — "We should forgive our enemies, and those who hurt us, not because they deserve forgiveness but because we deserve peace." Now, if you will take a few minutes and dwell on that, I believe you will see why it’s so powerful and can make a great difference in your life.
I have learned to live a constant state of forgiveness, and want to recommend it to you. When someone offends or hurts you in some way, just forgive them - then and there - and go on with your life. Just realize the person who hurt you is probably hurting others as well, and sooner or later the scales will balance and they will receive just compensation for their attitudes and actions. On the other hand, if someone who hurts you has broken the law, then they will be accountable to the authorities.
Sometime back I recall writing a column where I told about a young woman who sat in court for several days facing a man who was accused, and later convicted, of murdering her parents. Yet, she was able to forgive him. I am here to tell you that only the love of God can do that, and this brings tremendous peace.
As I thought about this I remembered an account in the Bible when Peter came to Jesus and said, "Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" And Jesus replied, "I tell you, not as many as seven, but seventy times seven." This is really another way of saying that we should live a constant state of forgiveness. Here is a simple question I hope you will ponder in the coming days — Who do you need to forgive?
Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to www.apositivemomentwithjim.com to subscribe.