Forgiveness – In your opinion, do you deserve it? Do you consider yourself to be basically a “good person”? You almost certainly think yourself to be a good person worthy of forgiveness. In fact, you are.
Yet, be honest with yourself and reflect on a few of the times that you did things that were self-centered, manipulative and irresponsible, as you ultimately hurt people around you . You may assuage your feelings of guilt for those times with various rationalizations. “I was young”, “I was broke and hungry”, “I didn’t intend to hurt him/her”, etc, etc. The excuses are the same for most of us. While many of these excuses have a grain of Truth to them, nevertheless, you HURT people, and did so to satisfy some perceived self-centered need at the time. Admit it.
So, do you “deserve” to be forgiven, when you get on your knees and say “God, please forgive me for my sins?” I am certain most of us can reach the conclusion that God could and will forgive us. Indeed, that is almost certainly True.
So, let’s stop talking about our own transgressions, and debating whether or not God can or will forgive us. Let’s ask ourselves instead whether the people whom we have wronged will forgive us. Will they? There is likely a long list of people we each need to reflect on, as most of us have hurt a great many people.
Ask yourself this: can you go to “Heaven” if people you have hurt have not forgiven you? If you were to go to such a joyful place, would you be in a state of eternal joy if you knew that there were myriads of people who were languishing in some degree of psychic pain because of things you had done to them? What if those people were your next door neighbors, in Heaven? Could you be totally free in such a case? If you are not totally free, devoid of all such regrets and other such burdens, what would it mean to be in “Heaven”? I suggest that even Heaven would not be “Heaven” in that case.
It is an interesting though disturbing question is it not?
Perhaps you can now recognize that getting forgiveness from an unconditionally loving God is probably far easier than being forgiven by all those you have wronged in your lifetime. So what can you do about this dilemma? Can you get in touch with all the people from your past and ask them to all forgive you? Not likely. You can’t track all these people down, and even if you could, some of them don’t even know the things you did which caused them harm. (They will know all these things when they get to the next world though, so you can not take alot of solace in their current ignorance.)
It is clear you simply you can not hope to locate everyone you have wronged, and may not be able to get the forgiveness of those you are still able to get in touch with. (Nevertheless, you can certainly ask for forgiveness when the opportunities present themselves. Apologies from a sincere heart go a very long ways toward melting away resentments.) What you CAN do, and SHOULD do, is do for others what you would have them do to you.
Forgive those who have wronged you. Understand, from deep down in your soul, that those who have wronged you did so exactly as you have wronged others, and for pretty much the same reasons. Those who hurt you nevertheless consider themselves basically good people, just as you do, and consider themselves worthy of forgiveness, just as you do. They have the same list of rationalizations for their shortcomings as you do, and their rationalizations are just as True as yours.
A wise man told us long ago that if we were proceeding to the altar to make an offering to God, but on the way remember that we have an issue with our brother or sister, that we should make peace with them and then go to the altar of God to make our offering together. Thus we can see that the almighty God of unconditional, True Love is quite concerned that we find a way to forgive each other, before we worry about getting the forgiveness of God.
And so it is that we are told to love even our enemies, as an indispensable key to our own salvation.