The Deep Oil of Forgiveness
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” -Mark Twain
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” -Jesus Christ
In his book “Unconditional” Brian Zahnd asks this question, “So what is your story? Who has been cruel to you? Perhaps bitterly cruel. What injustice have you suffered? How have you been mistreated? Perhaps miserably so. Who has cheated you? Abused you? Lied to you? Lied about you? Maybe it was last week. Maybe it was a lifetime ago.” i
It is interesting to look at Jesus’ words in Mark 11 concerning interpersonal forgiveness, “And, whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25 ESV) Christ is in effect saying that our vertical relationship with God is much more related to our horizontal relationships with those around us, than we would like to admit.
As our personal creator, Jesus understands how we are made. Not just spiritually, but physiologically as well. Our bodies simply are not fashioned to carry the burden and weight of unforgiveness.
Psychiatrist Loren Olson recently noted that “those more inclined to pardon the transgressions of others have been found to have lower blood pressure, fewer depressive symptoms and, once they hit late middle age, better overall mental and physical health than those who do not forgive easily.” ii
Forgive easily? Is that even possible? We all have heard someone say (or maybe even said it ourselves), “I will forgive, but I will never forget!”
Ev Worthington, whose elderly mother was brutally beaten, raped, and left alone to slowly bleed to death by an enraged burglar, gives personal insight into this. “Sometimes people have a hard time admitting that they aren’t forgiving a person who hurt them. They think that forgiving is a matter of saying certain words — ‘I forgive you’, but there is a heart by-pass. Being able to say the words is a step, but the Lord really wants our hearts touched.”
At the core, forgiveness is releasing a debt. Choosing not to harbor the hurt and anger anymore. Opening the door for healing — maybe even reconciliation.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s always necessary. And it only takes one to forgive. When you get to the heart of the matter, our ability to forgive is rooted in the fact that we have been forgiven by Christ, in God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
All relationships demand the deep oil of forgiveness.
When we forgive it breaks the poisonous cycle of revenge, and allows the broken to walk in peace. The Jesus way is always the way of forgiveness. We forgive to free ourselves and to get our lives back. His way is the way that gives the future hope… a hope that can turn your life around.
i Zahnd, B., (2010). Unconditional? The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness. Orlando, FL: Charisma House.
ii Olson, L. A., (2011, March/April). Forgiveness: You Life Depends Upon It. Family Therapy Magazine, 10(2), 28-31.