The Forgiveness Principle

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I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

Peter once asked Jesus how many times a person should forgive someone who had sinned against them. Seven times? Jesus said, seven times seventy. It’s important that we become completely free of the actions of another. Why? The answer is found in the above passage: What we bind on earth, is bound in heaven. In other words, our fixed state of mind has a corresponding influence on the way our life unfolds.

How do we loose an offender that we feel has damaged us in some way? How do we forgive? We start with the realization that they have no power to diminish us. Our negative response toward them is the only thing that hurts us. Forgiveness is taking back the power we have given them.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with condoning or overlooking the bad behavior of another. To forgive someone does not mean you have to throw your arms around them. It means that you see yourself in a new light. Despite their intention, you are still whole, completely unscathed by anything they have said or done. Free yourself of the notion that they have taken something from you, for they can only take what you are willing to give. Again, what you bind on the earth of your own thinking will have a corresponding influence somewhere in your life.

When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, he acknowledged that they meant evil toward him. But he was able to rise above their intentions by focusing on the greater good that ultimately came about for him. Though we would likely think he was justified in doing so, he did not allow their negative actions to diminish him. He did not bind himself to their low intentions with resentment.

If you are struggling with negative feelings around the actions of another, know the ball of forgiveness is always in your court. Loose them and let them go. In doing so, you are freeing yourself.

2 thoughts on “The Forgiveness Principle

  1. An important aspect of forgiveness which we also need to deal with is self-forgiveness. The unloving deeds we do that we carry with us can also stifle individual growth and well-being unless and until we can forgive ourselves (i.e. ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors’). The Acts of Examination and Contrition which Catholics undergo before confession is important in this regard, for sometimes what is burdening our souls is something we’ve done that perhaps resulted in someone else retaliating in unforeseen ways that wound us deeply. To say a few Hail Mary’s or some other such atoning act may seem trite, but the releasing of unending self-condemnation is quite freeing. The ultimate act of forgiveness is sometimes saying ‘I was wrong and I’m sorry.’

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