It has become clear to me that forgiveness is a practice. It is something you just do when you recognize resentment, anger or even hatred building in your life towards another person.
Each of us must come to that place where we recognize that these symptoms debilitate and dis-empower us from becoming the best version of ourselves for the glory of God.
Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is always about what is best for you.
When we are bitten by the venomous snake of unforgiveness, it sucks out our potential and purpose.
Left unchecked, its poison will travel through the veins to our heart and once there we lose sight of everything that is important to us. The people we love end up getting contaminated by this venomous reptile, as we slither around with a forked tongue spewing and releasing venom onto our loved ones.
Forgiveness needs to become a practice in our lives. We need to determine in advance, when offended we will forgive. Sometimes it won’t be easy and will require work. One dictionary defines practice this way:
The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it. Exercise, use, operation, implementation, execution, enactment, action, doing it.
I believe Christ had determined beforehand to forgive his tormentors in the most traitorous circumstances. He had been teaching the need to forgive for months before it happened and the Lord knew His turn would come:
We practice forgiveness when people don’t really know they are hurting us. While hanging on the cross, Christ out to God to “forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
And we need to forgive, even if they are purposefully trying to offend us:
The personal trauma that many of us encounter often comes from those who are closest to us. These bites hurt more because betrayal by family, friends or fellow church members feels deeper.
But when a person is bitten by a poisonous snake, they do not stand around, shuffling their feet, trying to decide whether to go to emergency or not? There is never any hesitation as they immediately rush to the hospital before the venom has a chance to spread.
The same is true when you have been offended. There should be no hesitation as you decide whether to forgive or not.
And like a snake’s poison delay can be deadly. As you wait, the anger, resentment and hatred is already coursing through your veins. We must stop it before it reaches our heart.
Your decision to forgive should be immediate and that will only happen if you have chosen in advance to do this.
By immediately forgiving, we end up the winner. It is ultimately our choice: venom or victory.