Forgiving the abuser

Even if we've been harmed severely, forgiveness is possible—and essential to our salvation.

There is a divine demand to forgive. If we are Christians, we have to. The Master, Christ Jesus, told us to pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." When we don't forgive those who we think have wronged us, we may find it difficult to feel God's love for us. We might even find that healings are harder to come by.

The questions come thick and fast as we ponder the subject of forgiveness. What does it actually mean to forgive? Is it enough to stop resenting, or do we have to "forgive and forget," as the adage goes? If we truly believe we have been badly hurt by another, do we have to forgive even under those circumstances?

Several years ago I found myself carrying around a very large burden of resentment stemming from being abused as a child. I felt quite justified in my resentment. After all, I didn't hate those who had hurt me; I just didn't want anything to do with them. And, to be honest, I secretly wanted them to suffer because I had suffered. This was hardly a Christian attitude. Gradually, as I prayed about it, I realized that I didn't want to carry this burden around with me. It was affecting my ability to love others. I didn't feel free, but darkened and bowed down.

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The kingdom within— what does it mean?
March 29, 1993

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