Choose to forgive

Leviticus 19-18

The Verse of the Day for June 26, 2015 is found in Leviticus 18:19 (AMP):

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself; I am the Lord.

Leviticus, the third book of the Pentateuch, literally means The Book of the Law and indicates how the Children of Israel should conduct their lives in relationship to God, to one another, and to the wider community. The phrase “I am the Lord” also serves as a reminder of the source of the pronouncements that are made throughout the Book of the Law. In chapter 19 the phrase is used not only to punctuate verse 19, but the expression is the final phrase of fourteen additional verses.

The expression to “not take revenge nor bear any grudge” is “to forgive,” and most remarkably, the Verse of the Day spotlights National Forgiveness Day, a designated time to forgive and be forgiven, according to the Committee for Educational and Cultural Action. From an Examiner.com article discussing National Forgiveness Day, comes the following excerpt:

Forgiveness, a vitally important concept in Christianity, is described as a two-way street. This virtue is eloquently expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. . . .” The subject is connected to some of the last words that Jesus Christ, who was also brutally slain, as he spoke before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In addition, Paul also exhorts believers to “be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Dr. Arch Hart, Christian psychologist, offers a definition of forgiveness that seems to be particularly applicable. . . : “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.”

James E. Hurst cites Dr. Sidney Simon who offers this definition of this of this critical concept:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”

Dr. Robert D. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute and pioneer researcher with the first scientifically proven forgiveness program in the country, has developed Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This study guide demonstrates how forgiveness, when approached in the correct manner, benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven, indicating that forgiveness can reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness toward one’s future. The title of Dr. Enright’s workbook also brings to mind this poem composed thirteen years ago:

I Choose to Forgive

 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

 

I choose to forgive and to release from payment,

To clear the account and forego the debt once more.

Though rightfully owed to me, I choose to forgive,

To be gracious, in spite of the ingratitude.

My desire is to be kind and tenderhearted;

Even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me,

I rise to the occasion of the Word of God.

Not keeping a record of any wrongs suffered,

I seek to walk in the footsteps of the Savior.

As Joseph, in compassion, assured his brothers

What Satan meant for evil, God fashions for good,

Widen my vision to see a much more grand scope:

May I also see all things working together

For the good, even in perilous times as these.

A year ago on June 17, 2015, a series of horrific events occurred in Charleston, SC, where Dylann Roof sat in on a midweek Bible study for an hour before opening fire in a brutal attack that left nine dead at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. When Roof appeared in court on the following Friday facing nine counts of murder, many of the family members of those slain stated, “I forgive you.” The response to the events in Charleston in 2015 served as a prelude to National Forgiveness Day.

This year in the early morning hours on June 19 Omar Mateen, wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, opened fire inside the crowded Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Certainly, this unimaginable sequence of events provides ample opportunities to apply the principles of forgiveness on National Forgiveness Day 2016.

Matthew West, popular Christian singer, tells the story behind one of the songs that he wrote “Forgiveness”:

Listen to Matthew West, as he performs “Forgiveness” in its entirety:

 

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