To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.

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Here’s what I did for my Life Group homework:

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

The quote is from Lewis B. Smedes  from his book, Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve.’   

 Not forgiving someone who we feel has wronged us has been compared to drinking poison and hoping that the offender dies from that poison. In other words, resentment and unforgiveness imprison you and will almost certainly impact negatively on other relationships (innocent bystanders).

On the divorce course we learned that forgiveness is not a FEELING but a DECISION, to set down the burden of resentment. Science backs up this claim: Dr Fred Luskin (Stamford University) has demonstrated that forgiveness can be learned.  His team’s research revealed that forgivers experience less anger and suffer less stress and depression than those who don’t forgive. Luskin’s studies showed that as people learn to forgive they become more hopeful, optimistic and compassionate – and more forgiving in general – not just to their oppressors but to everyone.

The Bible provides a wealth of guidance on forgiveness. The concept is at the heart of Christian living. God does not want to see us in chains. In fact, God commands us to forgive.

Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive, as the Lord forgave you.” Also Luke 6:37 – “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Not forgiving “those who trespass against us” interferes with our walk with God – and God does not want anything to separate us from him.

There are countless websites devoted solely to the subject of forgiveness, and, not surprisingly, many of these are Christian based.

Then there is The Forgiveness Project which uses the real stories of victims and perpetrators to explore concepts of forgiveness, and to focus on alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge, alternatives which do, ultimately set us free.

Asking For Forgiveness

(Photo credit: hang_in_there)

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