Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

The Attitude of Forgiveness

print Print  |  send Send to a friend  |  bookmark Bookmark  |   |   |  back Back

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Sometimes we think of ourselves as godly and righteous people with many qualities until unexpected events happened and complicates our life. Most of these events can be very quick and simple to deal with (not seeing eye to eye in a certain situation, a simple disappointment, not letting anything slide...). But because we are stubborn humans filled with self-righteousness and pride, being right becomes more important than letting the problem slide in peace. This is like a weed in the middle of the field. If the farmer does not tend to it and take time to pluck it out, it will become stronger and have deeper roots and will soon ruin the rest of the crop.

Some people feel that forgiveness is only a myth or a wonderful idea. They think it is an impossible thing to do. It is easier to be angry and desire to get even with someone than to forgive. Forgiving means you give up all your rights and the hurt you feel. It also means that you feel weak since you gave in and you feel defeated.

Some people only forgive minor things but not major things. When God forgives His children, He does not differentiate between small or big sins, but He will forgive anything as long we come to Him and confess and repent.

It is normal for human beings to experience different kinds of feelings, especially sadness and joyfulness. It is very hard to discard the pain and suffering we go through in situations of abuse, violence, the death of a loved ones, etc. We need to acknowledge and respect our pain that results from suffering and give it time to heal. But we should not stuck in the thorns and choke by it from pride and resentment but instead overcome it by using forgiveness to step over pain and choose to have a blessing over demolishing our life.

Some people not only have grudges against each other, but also against God if:

  • God does not grant them their wish
  • They lose a loved one
  • They lose their job or their business
  • They are in a troublesome situation

They go through so many emotions (hold a grudge, resentment, bitterness, disappointment, etc.) and end up with sadness, suffering. They waste their time and energy fighting and end up with many health problems. Most of all, they allow small problems to separate them from the Lord. We need to understand that through pain we can become stronger, mentally and spiritually, but only if we overcome this pain and practice forgiveness in our lives.

One of the hardest things we can do in everyday life at home, at work, at church, is to be able to look at others and:

  • Say "I am sorry, forgive me"
  • See the best in others
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt
  • Swallow our pride
  • Remember that the Lord forgave us first
  • Humble ourselves
  • Change our attitude
  • Change our expectations
  • Open ourselves to other's opinions
  • Seek God's love first

"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mark 11:25-26).

In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Mathew 18:23), Jesus gave us a clear picture about forgiveness. It is about a servant who owed his king ten thousand talents and he could not pay him back. The king was kind, compassionate, and forgiving to his servant, regarding what the servant owed him. That same ungrateful servant turns around to another fellow servant, who owed him a little, and put him in prison until he pays him the debt in full. So when the king heard what happened, He called the ungrateful servant and scolded him, then sent him to be tortured until he paid all that was due to the king.

We pray "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespasses against us...". How can we ask God to forgive our faults, iniquities, and all our wrong doings, and at the same time we turn around and hold grudges in our heart against our neighbor and do not forgive him?

Why we have to forgive?

  • It will end the cycle of hurt and resentment
  • It will help us rise above vengeance and rage
  • It will teach us to fight for the voice that is telling us the right from wrong
  • It will stop us from destroying ourselves
  • It will help the Holy Spirit to work in us
  • It will bring harmony to our spirit in the midst of painful feelings and grief

How can we overcome hurt and grudges?

  • Escape to a quiet place

    There is always a way out
    If we put our heart to work
    And discover the deep message to us
    Like soft spoken words
    From God in our inner spirit

  • Listening to a good wise friend's words to you

    Will help you to hear the truth
    And open your eyes to new possibilities
    To do the most good for yourself
    And to bring you to a peaceful and comfortable place

  • Realizing that there is a need to do something

    Why do I keep avoiding the problem?
    What do I seek for myself?
    How can I look at the situation from a different perspective?
    How can I solve it?

  • Willing to reflect and pray about it

    Ask God to invite you back to his flock
    Ask God to help and guide you by
    presenting your case in front of Him with
    Sorrow and repentance

  • Remember that in order to forgive

    You will need lots of guts
    Lots of determination
    Lots of positive thinking
    Lots of love in your heart

"Then Peter came to Him and said 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'" (Mathew 18:21-22).

God in His mercy towards us forgives us continually and He expects His children to be in His image. Always ask yourself who we worship? Can we serve two masters? Why do we exist? What are our values in life? So many questions, and they all lead only to one answer: Do not try to be in control of your own life and your own destiny. For surely you will fail and it will result in rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in you and prevent the growth of your spiritual life. And you end up spending all your energy hating, fighting, isolating yourself, for love cannot live or grow in hard soil. Instead, focus on your main goal and invite the Lord to work in you and He will pull you up every time you are in need. He will give you many blessing from the Holy Spirit to strengthen you and heal your wounds.

What we learned about forgiveness:

Without love in your heart
You cannot appreciate each moment
It is easy to invite grudges
Your heart will fill up with plenty of hate.

Blessing only comes from God
Will make you blossom through the storm
Rejoice through pain and suffering
Praise the Lord in the midst of darkness.

In this life there is always something to be learned
Something to improve on
Something you can expect to happen
So be prepared and be faithful to the end.

Written by
Nagwa Abdou

print Print  |  send Send to a friend  |  bookmark Bookmark  |   |   |  back Back