‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
The bible describes God as an architect of peace. Yet we many of us refuse to conform to that peace (truth, love, gentleness, compassion, forgiveness, mercy) and more often follow destruction (pride, selfishness, greed, lust, resentment, fear, and idolatry). If we are troubled by our past and hold grudges against ourselves or others we ought to seek forgiveness.
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 18:35“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Luke 11:4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
Forgiveness is to set our minds at rest from past wrongs. Instead of holding within our minds and hearts a grudge/anger we choose to stop participating in the anger. We realize it was in the past and the past cannot be changed. Keeping it with us sets us up to re-experience the pain over and over. It hurts us... we hurt ourselves. As we hold this anger and hurts ourselves we damage our ability to be at peace and interfere with our spiritual development in God's love.
A man is hiking down a mountain and comes upon a snake. The snake says to the man, "sir, will you please help me by carrying me down the mountain?" The man looks puzzled at the snake and replies, "you are a snake, you will bite me if I pick you up." The snake pleads with the man, "I promise I will not bite you, I just want to get to the bottom of the mountain." The man agrees to help the snake. As they approached the bottom of the mountain the man placed the snake on the ground and the snake bit the man. The man became upset and yelled, "Why did you bite me! You promised you would not bite me!" The snake responds to the man, "I am a snake."
Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Now that the man has been bit by the snake would it do any good to hold a grudge against the snake, complain about snakes to everyone, and utilize his waking hours reminiscing about the snake biting him? Such behavior would drive a person insane. We have choice how to respond to unfortunate events in our lives and sometimes traumatizing events. We may respond by focusing upon the severity of the event evoking terrible pain and inward destruction or we may seek how we can use the suffering and experience to benefit others who may also be hurting. Others get bitten by snakes. Groups are formed to help each other work through suffering and loss. God is compassion, mercy, and love. What better opportunity is there to provide care for someone?
Besides the emotional pain revisited and continued, the mental pain, and the social struggles from prolonging negativity, there are also physical damaging affects from continued anger. Carrying around hate and anger within us creates chemical reactions damaging our bodies. If the man in the story above year after year continues to remember the snake creating tension in the body, nightmares, and fear that man will endure physical stress and suffering upon multiple organs within himself. He could eventually suffer from a serious physical condition due to his preoccupation and obsession over the snake... that one second event becoming a life-long experience.
People can become fixed in their beliefs, desires, and motivations. They become a slave to those beliefs and refuse to receive help. Many do not learn from their mistakes instead they life, self, or others. They are trapped by their own beliefs and slaves to sin. They do not understand what they do. They just do what their beliefs tell them to do without challenging, evaluating, and testing them. They repeat their faults over and over year after year.
Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
A snake will have it's consequences
When a person wrongs others that individual will create many problems for their own life. We cannot escape our actions. Instead of seeking revenge we can trust God's design has set forth consequences to help instruct others toward God's grace. We need suffering from our choices to help us sense God's righteousness and sin. Peace, joy, and suffering our spiritual senses to guide us. We ought to have faith in necessary suffering from poor choices and let others experience that suffering for their guidance. Helping others out before they learn may be helping them back into the same problem in the future. Spiritual discernment is essential for all spiritual activity to ensure we are doing it correctly.
Exodus 34:7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;
Numbers 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;
Matthew 7:6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
Relent, repent, contrite
Many times Jesus ran away from danger. The apostles dodged being stoned and killed. We ought to avoid blindly giving mercy and entrusting others. There are many snakes. We ought to seek to give mercy toward others, but with discernment, caution, and care. We ought to evaluate the situation, perhaps talk it over and begin with small steps. When we are wronged by someone we remember what they did understanding it can happen again. Forgiveness is not fooling ourselves into trusting the snake will not bite us... this time... because it promised.
One way to discern is to evaluate for prolonged change in the person's behavior. Consulting with others about the person is highly recommended especially in close relationships. Emotions and desires can easily bring deceptive thoughts. Getting feedback from a neutral party can bring wisdom. If our belief is different than a third party's belief, more consultation with neutral parties may be a wise choice. If our belief is a minority, it might be best to evaluate our motives more thoroughly and continue consultation to better understand the differences. Why is it that others see what I see do differently. Error must exist somewhere and it could lie within ourselves.
Psalm 51:17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
2 Chronicles 6:30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart),
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
More scripture on forgiveness
God desires us to be at peace. Past unresolved conflicts can influence us into destructive reactions. Letting go of our resentments and having forgiveness frees up ability and energy to be used for Godly purposes. Forgiveness does not mean we forget. When we are wronged we ought to end the battle struggling within us, yet retain the knowledge of the wrong for safety. We are careful not to set ourselves up to be hurt. We forgives others and ourselves through repentance and service to God.
As we forgive ourselves and others, we experience forgiveness.
Matthew 7:2 2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. WEB