There was a small flurry of debate about forgiveness on my Twitter timeline a few days ago, which got me thinking.  

A London priest had called on her local community to forgive the perpetrators for a crime they had committed.  A journalist responded to that call out of her own experience of being a victim of a crime, you can read what she said here.  

Both of them are right to some degree.  We cannot force anyone to forgive anyone else.  It is right for all representatives of the church (so all Christians) to encourage forgiveness, and to do their best to forgive others.  Christians are called to do so each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our sins (trespasses), as we forgive those who sin (trespass) against us”.

Carrying feelings of hatred, or of guilt, absorbs a huge amount of energy. We are each diminished when we give energy to those feelings.  It means we cannot devote energy to being the people God wants us to be. But the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that forgiveness comes from God – and as God forgives us, perhaps God helps us in our ability to let go of our feelings of annoyance and hatred towards others, to forgive them. 

There is nothing glib about forgiveness, and it doesn’t mean forgetting.  But it does mean opening our hearts and minds to the possibility of changing, of reacting or acting differently next time.  

One response to “Forgive!

  1. It's a very sticky question indeed, and it's certainly not one I'm adept at, I have to admit. I do agree with the article writer that there has to be some sense of repentance on the part of the perpetrator or it's all just a lot of hot air. I also think that it's up to the victim (if alive) to decide whether to forgive or not, and we as a society have to honour that choice, whatever it is. There should be no pressure or expectation that forgiveness will be offered, and especially amongst Christians where the pressure is greater.

    One thing that does rile me is when relatives of the victim say they forgive when the victim has not or cannot – that to me is utter betrayal of a family member who has suffered when they have not and (dare I say it? …) unforgivable …


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